Cases & Deals


Coalition of railroads achieve successful results in national collective bargaining

Client(s) National Railway Labor Conference

Jones Day was counsel for the U.S. railroad industry in one of the largest and most consequential labor matters of 2022, helping to avoid threatened work stoppages by 100,000 workers that would have gravely imperilled the U.S. economy and drew the personal attention of President Biden.

Every five years, a coalition of railroads – including Union Pacific, Canadian National, BNSF Railway, CSX, Kansas City Southern, and Norfolk Southern – bargain with the twelve unions that represent their employees. If bargaining fails, the President will appoint an “emergency board,” which functions as a form of non-binding arbitration. The current bargaining round began in 2019, and culminated in hearings before an emergency board in July.

A team of lawyers from Jones Day – from D.C., Detroit, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, New York and Chicago – prepared and presented the industry’s case to the board, including testimony from 18 fact witnesses and eight experts. It was an extraordinarily complex matter, with an amount in controversy of over US$9 billion. Following the board’s report, Jones Day assisted the railroads in reaching new agreements, a process that involved mediation by the Secretary of Labor and intense media coverage about the catastrophic consequences of a national rail strike.