Largest Rail Union Rejects Contract As Possible Nationwide Strike Looms

By Bill Galluccio

November 21, 2022

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Railroad crossing signal
Photo: Getty Images

The largest rail union in the country narrowly rejected a new contract as a possible nationwide strike looms just ahead of the holidays.

The SMART Transportation Division, representing about 28,000 conductors, is now the fourth union to vote against the contract. The margins were extremely close, as 50.8% voted down the latest offer.

"SMART-TD members, with their votes, have spoken, it's now back to the bargaining table for our operating craft members," SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson said in a statement. "This can all be settled through negotiations and without a strike. A settlement would be in the best interests of the workers, the railroads, shippers, and the American people."

The Brotherhood Of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the second largest union, voted in favor of the contract but said its workers would not cross the picket lines if other unions rejected the agreement.

A nationwide rail strike could have severe economic consequences, especially during the Holiday season. The Association of American Railroads estimates a strike could cost the country about $2 billion a day in lost economic output.

"A national rail strike would severely impact the economy and the public," the National Carriers' Conference Committee said. "Now, the continued, near-term threat of one will require that freight railroads and passenger carriers soon begin to take responsible steps to safely secure the network in advance of any deadline."

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