The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB) this week voted against a tentative agreement to renew the union’s contract, the third such union to vote against the agreement.

The IBB, which represents about 300 workers and is the smallest of the 12 unions involved in the contract renewal, now joins two other unions in voting against the agreement.

IBB now joins the Brotherhood of Maintenance Way Employes Division (BMWED) and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) members in voting against the agreement.

For now, BMWED and BRS members are set to go on strike as soon as December 4. IBB has agreed not to strike before December 9. 

Seven unions have approved the agreement. It will take all 12 unions to ratify to prevent a strike, as unions do not cross the picket lines of other unions. Congress may also use the Railway Labor Act to intervene and prevent a strike. 

The two largest unions have ratification votes scheduled in November. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), a division of the Rail Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) have votes scheduled for November 21.

More information regarding the negotiations can be found here.

“Our members rely on about 27 million bushels of corn and 11 million bushels of soybean meal every week to feed their chickens. Much of that is moved by rail,” NCC President Mike Brown said of the tentative agreement. “Any disruption of service could negatively impact the welfare of the birds, and ultimately impact production at a time when Americans are already dealing with record food inflation. We are pleased to see a tentative deal has been reached and look forward to its swift approval.”


In mid-September, major U.S. freight rail operators and the unions representing over one hundred thousand rail workers reached a tentative deal to avoid a strike.

The tentative agreement, reached between 12 unions representing workers across the rail industry and the Class I freight rail operators, included a 24 percent wage increase during a five-year period from 2020 through 2024, including an immediate payout to rail employees on average of $11,000 once the deal is ratified.

The agreement also included an extension to existing employee health care networks, the creation of voluntary assigned days off for employees in thru freight service, an additional paid day off for every employee represented by the unions, and exemptions to carrier attendance policies for routine and preventive medical care.

More information regarding terms of the deal can be found here.

The National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC), which represents most Class I rail operators including BNSF, Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern, CSX, Kansas City Southern, and the U.S. operations of Canadian National, led negotiations on behalf of the railroad operators.