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Shareholders have filed proposals at Norfolk Southern Corp. and Union Pacific Corp. requesting that the companies adopt an employer-paid sick-leave policy as a standard benefit.
The proposals are part of a broader initiative by investors and other stakeholders to press U.S. companies on a range of worker justice concerns, including paid sick leave, worker health and safety, freedom of association and a living wage, according to a press release from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
Those pushing for the worker justice reforms say "employers focused on those basic worker rights and benefits will experience improved employee retention and reduced operational disruptions due to strikes or work stoppages," Interfaith Center officials said.
Impact Shares filed the proposal at NS and Trillium Asset Management filed the proposal at UP, according to the center.
Paid sick leave was one of the key sticking points for the four rail unions that rejected the tentative agreement negotiated between unions and the nation's major freight railroads.
A tentative agreement was reached with the Biden administration's assistance in September. Eight of the 12 rail labor unions ratified the agreement. However, out of concern that one of the four remaining unions could call a strike after Dec. 8 — which would have resulted in all 12 unions walking off the job — Congress passed legislation to prevent a national rail strike.
The bill that President Joe Biden signed last week did not include paid sick leave, although the U.S. House had passed a separate measure that would have required the railroads to offer it.