Norfolk Southern on Wednesday became the third major freight railroad to recently offer some of its employees paid sick time.
It was a contentious point in last year’s railroad contract negotiations.
The offer is in response to the quality of life complaints brought up during contract talks.
The agreement provides about 3,000 track maintenance workers in the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division union with sick time.
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The railroad has been the subject of the fiery derailment in eastern Ohio earlier this month.
BMWED union spokesman Clark Ballew said the sick time will be especially welcome to workers rebuilding the track after the Feb. 3 derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
“It is imperative that they have resources available that keep them safe and healthy at a site that many would be apprehensive to work,” Ballew said. “Paid sick time is one of those resources, but there are several others, and we expect N.S. to start doing right by their employees and the public and afford all resources necessary to not exacerbate an already bad situation.”
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Freight railroads CSX and Union Pacific made similar agreements this month.
The workers will get four paid sick days a year and have the option to convert three of their personal leave days into sick days.
The railroads have been reaching these deals without demanding concessions from the unions.
The sick time agreements do not apply to train crews that have schedules keeping them on call 24-7. But the railroads have said they are negotiating with all of their unions about this.
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Late last year, the industry was pushed to the brink of a strike that had the potential to cripple the U.S. economy.
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|UNP||UNION PACIFIC CORP.||191.37||-2.39||-1.23%|
Paid sick time and demanding schedules were a major issue.
Congress had to step in to block a walkout and force workers to accept a five-year contract that included 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.