Norfolk Southern to give up to seven paid sick days per year to union members

(Reuters) – U.S. rail operator Norfolk Southern Co said on Friday it has reached an agreement with two of its labor unions to provide up to seven paid sick days a year to its members.

The company said it will provide four days of paid sick leave and allow members to use up to three additional days of existing paid time off as sick leave.

The agreements were reached with the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, Transportation Workers, Mechanical Department (SMART-MD) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and will immediately benefit about 650 railroaders.

This comes a month after White House officials renewed pressure on executives from the largest U.S. railroad operators to reach an agreement to secure paid sick leave for workers after President Joe Biden signed legislation to block a national railroad strike in December.

After the U.S. railroads completed their union labor agreement last year, Norfolk Southern said it would hammer out local terms for paid sick leave and other quality of life issues for their workers.

With Friday’s announcement, six of the 12 unions representing Norfolk Southern employees have locally negotiated paid sick leave benefits, the railroad said.

A company representative was not immediately available for additional comment.

Norfolk Southern has been facing criticism from the U.S. government recently after a number of train derailments, including a devastating Feb. 3 derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, of a freight train carrying hazardous materials.

(Reporting by Kannaki Deka in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Josie Kao)