Norfolk Southern, SMART-TD reach labor scheduling deal for conductors

Norfolk Southern and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Transportation Division (SMART-TD) have reached a “landmark” scheduling agreement for train conductors, according to a joint news release Friday.

While the exact details of the agreement weren’t available, the tentative deal, which needs to be ratified by union members, offers “a comprehensive suite of new benefits and workplace enhancements,” according to the release.

Some of the provisions are the following:

  • “Technology-driven enhancements” that will aid in scheduling and providing weekly assignments. 
  • Tools and work-rule changes that allow employees greater transparency and flexibility.
  • When spending time away from home, employees will receive a higher reimbursement for meals as well as additional compensation. Employees will also receive additional compensation for working on weekends.  
  • Up to seven days of paid sick leave. This will include five new paid sick days, plus the option to use two days of existing leave.

“This agreement underscores the progress we can make when SMART-TD and Norfolk Southern come together to improve the lives and workplace experience of our hard-working members,” SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson said in the news release. “I want to thank Norfolk Southern for their partnership, and most importantly, our tireless SMART-TD leaders — Jim Ball, Tommy Gholson, David Phillips, Drew Evans, Brian Sharkey, and Jason Roberts — for working collaboratively to reach this extremely positive outcome for Norfolk Southern conductors.”

This tentative agreement not only satisfies the obligation to discuss scheduling enhancements and other issues related to last year’s national agreements but also goes beyond those obligations, the release said.

The unions, including SMART-TD, had sought to address work-life issues and press for sick leave during the national collective bargaining process. But when the negotiations hit a wall, the three-member Presidential Emergency Board appointed by President Joe Biden recommended that the work-life issues be resolved at the local level.  

“I have a deep appreciation and respect for the contributions that my craft colleagues make to our company, our customers, and the U.S. economy,” NS (NYSE: NSC) President and CEO Alan Shaw said. “Coming out of national negotiations, we committed to taking a comprehensive look at quality of life at Norfolk Southern. With this agreement, we are leading the industry’s efforts to provide more predictable work and greater support for the wellbeing of our craft railroaders.”

NS has tentative or ratified sick leave agreements in place with 10 unions, eight of which were reached after December’s national bargaining process concluded.

“I am incredibly proud of the work we’ve done with our labor partners at SMART-TD to reach this landmark deal,” said Wai Wong, NS vice president of labor relations. “This agreement is the culmination of many honest, open discussions with our General Chairmen about our employees’ perspectives and priorities. I look forward to building on the foundation of trust we’ve laid as we continue working together to improve quality of life for our dedicated railroaders.”

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