National Railroad Contract Negotiations Update 2022

National Railroad Contract Negotiations Update 2022

In 2022, the United States witnessed significant developments in the National Railroad Contract Negotiations. This article aims to provide an overview of the status of these negotiations and the implications they have on the rail industry, its workforce, and the national economy.


The National Railroad Contract Negotiations is a process involving labor unions representing railway workers and the carriers that operate the major freight railroads in the United States. This negotiation process takes place under the jurisdiction of the National Railway Labor Act. As the contracts periodically expire, representatives from both sides meet to renegotiate terms such as wages, benefits, working conditions, and safety measures. This negotiation process is crucial for the smooth running of the country’s rail system, which is an integral part of the national economy.

Progress in 2022:

Resumption of Negotiations:

In early 2022, negotiations resumed with renewed vigor. This came after a period of stagnation that some speculated was due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Both the railroads and the unions recognized the need to address issues that were causing workforce dissatisfaction and operational inefficiencies.

Key Issues:

Several key issues were at the forefront of the 2022 negotiations:

  • Wages: The unions were seeking an increase in wages to keep pace with inflation and to reflect the increasing responsibilities and skills required by modern railroad operations.
  • Benefits: Negotiations also included discussion on healthcare benefits and retirement plans. The unions sought better healthcare plans and a secure retirement benefits package.
  • Safety: In the wake of several high-profile rail accidents, safety was a major concern. The unions demanded better training, equipment, and enforcement of safety regulations.

Major Developments:

Several important developments took place in 2022 regarding the negotiations:

  • Tentative Agreements: A number of rail carriers and unions reached tentative agreements during the course of the year. This was seen as a positive step toward finalizing new contracts.
  • Government Involvement: The federal government, through the National Mediation Board (NMB), played a more active role in facilitating discussions and ensuring that negotiations remained constructive.
  • Public Support: The general public and various interest groups showed support for the demands of the railway workers, recognizing the importance of their role in the national economy.
  • Technological Integration: Both parties recognized the need for technological advancements in rail operations, which were discussed as part of the negotiations to ensure that workers are well-prepared for the changing nature of the industry.


As of the end of 2022, the National Railroad Contract Negotiations showed significant progress, with several tentative agreements reached and an active role played by the NMB. These negotiations were crucial in addressing wages, benefits, safety, and the integration of technology into the rail industry. The outcomes of these negotiations are expected to have long-lasting impacts on the railway industry, the livelihood of the workforce, and the broader US economy. It will be important to continue to monitor developments as they unfold in 2023 and beyond.

By Carol Cooperman