CSX railroad promises paid sick time to two more unions

OMAHA, Neb. — CSX railroad has promised to give more of its workers the paid sick time they demanded in contract negotiations last fall.

CSX is the only major freight railroad so far to agree to give its employees sick time in the wake of contentious negotiations last year that ended only after Congress stepped in to block a potential strike.

The Jacksonville, Florida-based railroad said Friday that it had reached agreements with two more of its unions, just days after announcing pacts with a pair of other unions.

CSX said about 500 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union and the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers union, which represents the company’s utility workers, will soon get four paid sick days. The workers will also be able to convert three of their personal leave days into sick days to give them a total of seven days.

The machinists union said employees will be paid for any unused sick time at the end of each year, or they can have the value of those days added to their 401k retirement accounts.

CSX CEO Joe Hinrichs is trying to repair relations with his workforce after the bitter contract talks, and these sick time agreements represent a step in that direction. He said providing sick time shows how much the railroad values its employees.

“We have a great respect for the work they do in service to our customers and the nation, and we will continue to partner with them and their representatives to ensure they have the best possible employment experience with our railroad,” Hinrichs said in a statement.

The unions said they will press the other major freight railroads for similar agreements.

“Our strength and solidarity have made the case to the carriers, policymakers and the general public that we deserve paid sick leave,” said Josh Hartford, with the amchinists union’s rail division. “We are now seeing the results of years of advocacy by our union and many others on this critical issue.”