Update on Rail National Labor Agreement

Jun 29, 2022

Dear BNSF Customers,

The U.S. Class I railroads have been in national bargaining with multiple rail unions since November 2019. Labor negotiations in the rail industries are governed by the Railway Labor Act (RLA), designed to bring the parties to an agreement without disrupting rail transportation. The RLA includes several safeguards that help overcome bargaining stalemates and prohibits strikes or other self-help until exhaustion of mandatory procedures.

BNSF has worked with the other railroads to address issues raised by both sides and was disappointed that we were unable to reach voluntary agreements in mediation. We have offered pay increases consistent with labor market benchmarks and that reward rail employees for their essential work. The railroads' proposals would continue to place rail employee pay and benefits among the best in the nation.

After voluntary direct bargaining was unsuccessful, the railroads were in mediation under the auspices of the National Mediation Board. On June 17, 2022, after relatively few mediation sessions, the NMB decided to end mediation between the railroads and all rail labor organizations at the request of rail labor. The NMB provided the rail labor organizations and railroads an opportunity to submit disputes to binding arbitration before being released from mediation. The labor organizations rejected the NMB's proffer of arbitration, which triggers a 30-day cooling-off period. During this cooling-off period, President Biden will appoint a Presidential Emergency Board, which will have 30 days to investigate the dispute and recommend solutions. The PEB's issuance of recommendations starts the final 30-day cooling-off period, which ends September 15. If agreements are not reached by that time, the RLA permits self-help by the parties.

Most rail negotiations have resulted in a successful agreement without a work stoppage; however, Congress has, on rare occasions, stepped in to prevent or terminate a work stoppage following the exhaustion of the RLA procedures.

We will keep you informed on the progress of the settlement discussions. Please contact your marketing representative if you have any questions.


Steve Bobb
Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer