Tentative Railroad Agreement Heads Off Strike

Joe Biden announced on Thursday morning that a tentative agreement on new labor contracts with American railway workers has averted a strike that would have had disastrous implications for the American economy still suffering from supply chain woes.

As the Friday morning deadline to avoid a work stoppage drew near, new contracts are reportedly expected to provide rail workers with a 24% wage increase over the years from 2020 to 2024. That will involve an average immediate wage payment of around $11,000 as soon as the agreement is completed and ratified.

The Association of American Railroads announced the agreement and stressed that it must be approved by the members of the union in order to be ratified.

Biden issued a statement declaring the settlement to be a “hard-earned victory” for workers and railway companies. He said workers will receive “hard-earned better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs.” Biden added that management will be better able to retain and recruit more workers as a result.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh posted a tweet that said “20 consecutive hours of negotiations” have led to an agreement that “balances the needs of workers, businesses, and our nation’s economy.”

The negotiation sessions that wrapped up Thursday morning included three unions. As late as Wednesday night, one of 12 unions involved rejected one proposed agreement but agreed to delay a strike while negotiations went forward.

The three that remained as holdouts until the end had threatened to further disrupt the nation’s supply chain that has already contributed to the raging inflation hammering the nation.

In all, the 12 unions that are part of the final tentative agreement represent around 115,000 rail workers.

Railroads are subject to a wide array of federal laws and regulations, and the unions involved in the negotiations were not legally allowed to go on strike before Friday. Officials at all levels of government and virtually all major industries had been scrambling in recent days in efforts to prepare for a possible work stoppage.

Economic experts had also projected that many businesses would have seen their survival threatened by the supply disruptions that would inevitably come with a halt in railway transportation.