OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A group of CSX conductors will soon become the first train crew employees at one of the major U.S. freight railroads to have paid sick time.
CSX said Monday that it had reached an agreement to give members of a union that represents some of its conductors five paid sick days and allow them to convert two personal leave days to sick days, for a total of seven.
The deal is a bit more generous than the agreements CSX, Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern have announced since February. All the previous deals provided four sick days and allowed workers to convert three leave days into sick time. Those deals were with maintenance workers, mechanics and other rail workers but did not include train crews.
The lack of paid sick time in the industry was one of the key concerns that drove many rail workers to vote down a contract with the railroads last fall even though it included 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses. Ultimately, Congress forced rail workers to accept that deal in December and blocked their ability to strike.
The larger unions that represent all conductors and engineers have been pushing for more sick time than the railroads have agreed to give so far, partly because the train crews have the most demanding schedules in the industry that keep them on call 24-7.
CSX, which is based in Jacksonville, Florida, said that after this latest agreement with the B&O unit of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Transportation Division union about 60% of its union workforce including more than 10,000 employees will have paid sick time.
CSX CEO Joe Hinrichs said the railroad, which is one of the nation's largest, is trying to address workers' quality-of-life concerns.
“We are committed to listening to our employees and talking with union leaders about how we can solve issues and further improve relations,” Hinrichs said. “When we’re working together, we’re working better — for our customers and each other.”