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Railroads reach tentative accord with 4 more labor unions

November 18, 2011 |  1:44 pm

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A bargaining committee representing more than 30 U.S. railroads, including the two that serve Southern California, have reached tentative contract agreements with four more labor unions after 22 months of talks. The accords lessen the chance of a national strike that the American Assn. of Railroads said could cost the U.S. economy as much as $2 billion a day.

The tentative pacts announced today by the National Railway Labor Conference were reached with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Blacksmiths, Iron Ship Builders, Forgers and Helpers; the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Assn.; the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers; and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen.

Details were not released pending ratification by union members.

The railroads, which include the western lines BNSF Railway and Union Pacific, have now reached tentative agreements with 10 unions representing more than 60% of the 132,000 employees affected by this round of bargaining.

Only three more unions are still negotiating. A 30-day cooling-off period, during which no strike can be called, remains in effect until Dec. 6. This latest round of bargaining began in January 2010.

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-- Ronald D. White

Photo: A BNSF Railway cargo container train rolls into Winslow, Ariz., on its way toward California. BNSF is one of more than 30 U.S. railroads that have reached tentative accords with 10 labor unions after 22 months of bargaining. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

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