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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

AAR opposes U.S. House measure on paid sick leave


Proposed legislation separate from a bill to implement the tentative agreements ratified by eight of the 12 unions would "undermine" future collective bargaining, Association of American Railroads officials announced last night.

The proposed new measure would address paid sick leave, a concern expressed by members of the four unions that voted against ratification of the tentative agreement announced at the White House in September.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last night announced the House today would take up legislation to adopt the tentative agreement to prevent a national rail strike from occurring next month. However, after hearing from other House members, Pelosi said the House will also take a separate up-or-down vote to add seven days of paid sick leave for railroaders to the tentative agreement.

In response to Pelosi's announcement, AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies said a press release the ramifications of the sick-leave measure "would disincentivize future voluntary agreements for freight railroads, Amtrak and airlines if a party in bargaining believes it can obtain a better deal from Congress than it could through good-faith negotiations and the statutory [Presidential Emergency Board] process under the Railway Labor Act."

AAR stressed the following points:

  • Every union gets some form of paid sick leave. The terms of sickness benefits are the product of multiple rounds of collective bargaining in addition to extended paid sickness benefits.
  • The sick leave benefits are the result of decades of collective bargaining in which unions have repeatedly agreed that time off for shorter illnesses may be unpaid in favor of higher compensation and more generous long-term sickness benefits.
  • Most rail workers are scheduled employees who work predictable schedules and have ample paid time off. On average, workers have three weeks of vacation and up to 14 days of holidays and personal leave days. More senior employees receive up to five weeks of vacation for a total of up to seven weeks paid leave.
  • The PEB took concerns about paid leave into account when it released the recommendations on which the tentative agreements are based.