OMAHA, Nebraska (AP) — The union representing railroad engineers finally reached its first paid sick leave agreement with Norfolk Southern several months after other railroad unions began to reach similar agreements with the main freight railways.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive and Train Engineers announced the agreement with the railroad on Thursday. Approximately 3,300 engineers who operate trains for Norfolk Southern will soon get five days of paid sick leave along with the option to convert two days of personal leave to sick leave, for a total of seven days a year.
This agreement follows the model established by the drivers union in its early sick leave agreements with Norfolk Southern and CSX. Those train crew workers are getting better deals, with five days of sick leave, than the other smaller rail unions that received four days of sick leave. But train crews work much more unpredictable and demanding schedules than other rail workers.
Formerly the BLET union expressed frustration about the pace of sick time negotiations and the demands the railroads were making. It was not immediately clear Thursday what, if anything, the engineers had to give in to secure the deal with Norfolk Southern.
“This is a great day for the BLET,” said Scott Bunten, one of the general presidents of the unions who helped broker the agreement. “Our members are the heart of the railroad, and this agreement is a major victory in our tireless efforts to improve the quality of their experience on and off the job.”
Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw said the deal builds on the railroad’s “effort to improve quality of life as we become the first railroad to reach a sick leave agreement for engineers.”
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