Railroad Workers Strike Tentative Deal, Avoiding Nationwide Strike
The Biden Administration announced this morning that rail workers' unions have struck a tentative deal with the railroads, thus avoiding a potential national rail strike that would have further hamstrung the supply chain.
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh tweeted this morning that union leaders and railroad companies spent 20 consecutive hours negotiating, having started discussions yesterday morning. The 60-day delay on a potential strike originally put in place by President Biden would have expired at Midnight on Friday. If that deadline passed, more than 7,000 trains would have been ceased operation, costing an estimated $2 billion per day and slowing down a supply chain that is already causing problems for businesses and consumers.
"The tentative agreement reached tonight is an important win for our economy and the American people," President Biden said in a statement, according to CNBC. "It is a win for tens of thousands of rail workers who worked tirelessly through the pandemic to ensure that America's families and communities got deliveries of what have kept us going during these difficult years."
This is a win for the economy and for the American people.
Rail workers will get better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs.
I thank both the unions and rail companies for negotiating in good faith. https://t.co/9JNtLynsch
— President Biden (@POTUS) September 15, 2022
The unions were fighting for quality-of-life improvements to be included in a new contract, including paid sick time and the alleviation of what it called "on-call" status for engineers and conductors, forcing them to be available to work at a moment's notice and sometimes be away from home for extended periods.
The new contracts will include wage increases, as well as an extra paid day off for workers, and the possibility to revisit attendance policies in the future.
A spokesman from the Association of American Railroads called the agreement "a historic win," but clarified that the agreement still needs to be ratified by union membership, which could take longer than a week.
Assuming they do agree to the terms, though, this should cause a sigh of relief from business owners and consumers. Businesses can't really afford more disruption to the supply chain that's still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, not to mention the interruption to basic transportation this would create.