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Freight Railroads Reach Five-Year Deal With Largest Union

The seven largest U.S. freight railroads and the United Transportation Union, the largest railroad workers union, said they reached a tentative five-year agreement covering wages, benefits and working conditions.

The terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed because it has yet to be ratified by the union’s 38,000 members, according to a statement today on the UTU Web site.

The National Carriers Conference Committee acted as the railroads’ bargaining agent. It represented Warren Buffett’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe, based in Fort Worth, Texas; Norfolk Southern Corp., based in Norfolk, Virginia; CSX Corp., based in Jacksonville, Florida; and Union Pacific Corp., based in Omaha, Nebraska.

The union is expected to present the agreement to its leadership later this month, Frank Wilner, a spokesman for the group, said in an e-mail. Union leaders will then have 15 days to submit questions, and the questions and answers will be provided to all members prior to a ratification vote, according to the statement.

Other rail labor organizations, bargaining as part of two other coalitions, are in their second year of negotiations with the railroads. They include the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, according to a statement on the latter group’s Web site.

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