Biden: Tentative Agreement Reached to Avoid National Rail Strike


President Joe Biden announced a tentative agreement has been reached between railroad companies and unions representing their workers to avoid a nationwide strike. The strike could have had a severe impact on the economy.

Biden made a statement early Thursday that a tentative agreement was released, stating it was an important win for the U.S. economy and for the American people. 

“These rail workers will get better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs: all hard-earned. The agreement is also a victory for railway companies who will be able to retain and recruit more workers for an industry that will continue to be part of the backbone of the American economy for decades to come,” Biden said. 

The two sides had until 12:01 a.m. Friday to broker a deal and avoid a work stoppage. It took nearly 20 hours for the railroad companies and union representatives to broker a deal. Biden specifically thanked Labor Secretary Marty Walsh for brokering the long negotiation talks.

The deal goes to the unions for a finalized vote to seal the agreement. The negotiating parties have reportedly agreed to a “post-ratification cooling off period” of several weeks, to ensure there is not an immediate rail shutdown if a vote doesn’t succeed for any reason.

The presidents of the unions representing rail workers said the breakthrough provides for “the highest general wage increases over the life of the agreement in over 45 years.”

On Wednesday 5,000 railway workers at the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) voted to reject a tentative contract agreement based on recommendations released by a White House-appointed last month, authorizing a strike. 

A White House official said that Biden made a key phone call to negotiators on both sides, noting the ripple effects on the economy that a potential work stoppage would do to American families, farmers, and businesses. 

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