Biden: Tentative agreement reached to avoid national rail strike

President Biden early on Thursday released a statement announcing that railroad companies and unions representing their workers had reached an agreement to avoid a nationwide strike that could have had a severe impact on the economy.

“The tentative agreement reached tonight is an important win for our economy and the American people,” Biden said in the statement.

He went on to say that the agreement means, “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.“ 

The two sides had until 12:01 a.m. Friday to broker a deal and avoid a work stoppage.

The railroad companies and union representatives had negotiated for nearly 20 hours, according to multiple outlets, to broker the tentative deal. 

A White House official told the Associated Press 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. 

Biden thanked Labor Secretary Marty Walsh for brokering the talks that lasted well into the night.

“I especially want to thank Secretary Walsh for his tireless, around-the-clock efforts that delivered a win for the hard working people of the US rail industry: as a result, we will keep Americans on the job in all the industries in this country that are touched by this vital industry.”

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

Some railroad transportation services, including Amtrak, announced the cancellation of all long-distance trains services starting on Thursday to avoid disruptions in their service amid the railroad strike. 

If a work stoppage were to happen, more than 115,000 rail workers were legally required to strike on Friday, meaning that the eventual strike could’ve halted the transport of food, fuel, and other goods, resulting in damaging effects on the U.S. economy. 

Updated at 8:05 a.m.

Tags Agreement Biden Marty Walsh Marty Walsh President Biden rail strike
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