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Nearly 95% of BLET Divisions representing locomotive engineers on Norfolk Southern ratified a new paid sick leave agreement with Norfolk Southern on June 19. The new deal provides NS engineers with five new days of paid sick leave per year and the flexibility to use up to two additional days as paid sick leave.

This agreement was the first to protect employees using paid sick leave from punitive handling under the Carrier’s attendance policy.  Additionally, the agreement protected multiple pay provisions and further improved existing time off protections specific to engineers.  The negotiating team consisted of General Chairmen Jerry Sturdivant, Dewayne Dehart, and Scott Bunton, with assistance from National Division Vice President Rick Gibbons.

GC Sturdivant said: “I believe this is a good start to addressing many quality of life issues that have too long eluded the railroad industry.”

GC Dehart said: “I’m proud that we were the first to negotiate paid sick leave for our members. It has been long overdue and should help railroads across the country to improve their quality of life without losing compensation. They will also not have to live with the fear of discipline just for being sick.”

GC Bunten said: “This historic ratification of a paid sick leave agreement for engineers will allow engineers to be sick and get compensated without fear of retribution. The BLET represents engineers and trainmen. This paid sick leave agreement coupled with the recent conductor agreement that gives conductors some of the benefits that the engineers have enjoyed for decades will enhance the lives of both crafts on and off the job.” Also, Bunten said the 2023 agreement between NS and the conductor’s union is almost a word-for-word copy of a 2015 NS-BLET agreement but provides conductors only about half the money provided under the 2015 BLET agreement.

In a joint statement regarding ratification, the General Chairmen thanked BLET National President Eddie Hall and Vice President Gibbons: “We are very proud to have negotiated a real benefit that will enrich the lives of every engineer on the Norfolk Southern system. Additionally, we want to thank VP Gibbons for his counsel and expertise during negotiations. Without Rick, this deal may not have come to fruition.”

The BLET continues to seek similar paid sick leave deals with the other Class I railroads.