Railroad Unions Freight rail companies and unions representing tens of thousands of workers reached a tentative agreement to avoid what would have been an economically damaging strike, a relief for businesses and consumers and a win for President Biden, whose administration helped broker the deal.
The breakthrough came just hours before a critical deadline that would have allowed workers to strike and followed all-night talks with unions and industry leaders that were brokered by Mr. Biden’s labor secretary, Martin J. Walsh.
Railroad Unions In remarks at the White House on Thursday, Mr. Biden hailed the agreement as a win for both workers and companies alike, reflecting his effort this week to remain impartial in the talks as he tried to push the sides toward agreement. While Mr. Biden has styled himself as the most pro-union president in history he avoided publicly taking sides and portrayed the tentative deal as an achievement for both unions and corporations.
“This agreement is a big win for America,” Mr. Biden said. “And this is a great deal for both sides, in my view.”
The deal now heads to union members for a ratification vote, which is a standard procedure in labor talks. While the vote is tallied, workers have agreed not to strike.
While the agreement included compromise by both sides, workers ultimately won several of the concessions they were seeking, including better pay and more flexible schedules, including time off for medical appointments. With rail unions making clear that their workers were prepared to walk off the job, pressure was building on freight carriers to avoid an economically devastating strike that was likely to hurt businesses, farmers and consumers by delaying the movement of critical goods.
In a sign of the compromise, the deal was praised by both freight companies and union leadership. It would increase worker wages by a total of 24 percent over five years, stretching back to 2020, including what industry groups said would be an average payout of $11,000 per worker upon ratification.