The head of the major freight rail union is pessimistic about his ability to achieve a new deal with carriers in time to avert a crippling strike and believes Congress will likely weigh in soon.
President of the SMART Transportation Division Jeremy Ferguson stated in an interview on Monday night, “I’m hopeful, but I doubt it’s really in the cards.” “Our guys voted it down because I have a lot of outstanding issues,” the speaker said.
After the White House aided unions and rail companies in brokering a compromise in September, SMART-TD, which represents nearly 40,000, or 3 in 10, freight rail workers, announced Monday that its members had rejected a tentative agreement with employers out of frustration over time-off, among other things. There is only a week left for those affected before a cooling-off period that prohibits any form of work stoppage expires at midnight on December 4th.
Ferguson declared, “Something has to happen by then, or else we’re all going to walk.”
Ferguson predicts that lawmakers will use their power to intervene before that time, though it’s unclear whether they’ll do so by enforcing the recommendations of an emergency board that the president appointed, as the employers desire, or by enforcing the respective tentative agreements of the unions, as some officials have argued, or simply by extending the cooling-off period to give negotiators more time. Democrats and unions have frequently argued against legislative participation in an effort to keep as much power as possible.
It’s only a brief period of time, added Ferguson. “Unfortunately, I think Congress will become alarmed and intervene here at some point next week.”
Ferguson declared that he and representatives from three smaller freight rail unions, which have also rejected their tentative deals, will reopen negotiations with carriers on Tuesday. Of course, they’ve been talking about it for weeks, but I’m going to join the conversation, he said.
Ferguson doesn’t expect to make much progress in those negotiations, though, given the way things have gone so far, especially given that SMART-proposed TD’s contract included more intricate modifications to attendance and other rules.
Ferguson replied, “We’ll see if it goes somewhere. Carriers, though, “haven’t been willing to move with the other three unions,” and “already, our agreement has a lot of work regulation modifications in which theirs actually didn’t.” We have a bigger hill to climb as a result.
According to Ferguson, Congress hasn’t communicated with union officials much lately, leaving them largely in the dark about their intentions. Prior to the Thanksgiving break, the House and Senate are not in session this week.
According to Ferguson, “there’s no real indication yet what’s going to happen.” However, “everyone is ready to get it done; get it over.”