President Biden announced Thursday morning that on the day of talks at the US Department of Labor to stop the national rail strike,A deal was found.
In a statement, Mr Biden said the “temporary agreement” between the railroads and railroad workers’ unions is “a significant victory for our economy and the American people” and “a victory for the thousands of railroad workers who have worked tirelessly through this.” It’s the pandemic to ensure America’s families and communities have the delivery of what has kept us going through these difficult years.”
Mr Biden said US railroad workers would get “better pay, better working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs: all hard-earned,” thanks to the agreement, which he said was “better for railway companies.” It was also a victory for one that would be able to retain and recruit more workers for an industry that will continue to be the backbone of the American economy for decades to come.”
The president met with negotiators in the Oval Office later Thursday morning, calling the rail system “the backbone of the nation” in brief remarks, before delivering formal comments on the agreement.
“This agreement is a huge victory both for America and in my view,” he said during his Rose Garden speech, adding that the temporary labor deal “is a validation of what I’ve always believed: union and management together.” can work.”
“For the American people,” Mr. Biden continued, “this agreement could avert the significant damage that any shutdown would have caused. Our nation’s rail system is the backbone of our supply chain, everything you rely on.” Huh.”
The agreement will now go to the unions for a vote to finalize the agreement. Presidents of unions representing railroad workers said the success provided “the highest normal wage increase in the life of the agreement in 45 years”.
The unions said workers would get an immediate 14% increase during the five-year deal, taking the total to 24%. They will also receive an annual bonus of $5,000 and keep their health care copies and deductibles unchanged.
Importantly, all workers would get an extra pay day and the ability to take time off for medical reasons, one of the unions’ key demands during the negotiations.
“For the first time, our unions were able to obtain negotiated contract language for exemptions from carrier attendance policies for certain medical events,” union chiefs said.
A source familiar with labor talks told CBS News that the negotiating parties had agreed on a “post-ratification cooling-off period” of several weeks, to ensure there is no immediate rail shutdown if a vote is not successful. for any reason.
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh oversaw a marathon negotiating session at the Labor Department on Wednesday that led to a settlement, and CBS News learned that Mr Biden made an “important call” in talks around 9 p.m. local time on Wednesday evening. as described. ,
Walsh said in a tweet that after “more than 20 consecutive hours of negotiations” at the Labor Department, “railway companies and union negotiators came to a tentative agreement that balances the needs of workers, businesses and our nation’s economy.”
Announced hours after AmtrakThe strike comes amid threats from Thursday that could disrupt not only passenger and freight services, but also the US economy. Rail companies warned that the strike could cut productivity by $2 billion a day.
In light of the agreement announced Thursday morning, Amtrak said it was working “to quickly reinstate canceled trains” and to reach affected customers at the first available departures.
The root of the problem was a labor dispute between the railroad companies and their unionized workforce. Had the two sides not reached an agreement, the strike should have started only after midnight on Friday.
A Labor Department spokesman told CBS News Wednesday evening that dinner had been ordered and talks were underway in Washington between federal officials, railroad officials and railroad workers union leaders. Mr Biden’s statement about the deal came at around 5 am on Thursday.
Without the deal, the strike would have begun on Friday at the end of a 30-day “cooling-off” period mandated under the terms of the Railway Labor Act, which regulates contract negotiations in the rail and airline industries.
It was the Association of American Railroads that warned that stopping freight trains could cost the US economy more than $2 billion a day. If the shutdown lasts for more than a few days, its impact will be felt by millions of consumers, as it will disrupt shipping of almost all retail products, coal, other fuels and manufacturing components.
Experts say that passengers will also be in bad luck, as many passenger trains run on goods tracks which will be rendered useless in the strike.
In the past, most recently in 1986, Congress has worked to end railroad strikes. If no agreement had been reached this week, both houses could have passed a joint resolution – which the president would have to sign – to effectively put railroad workers to work under conditions set by an emergency board set up by the White House. To force year. The US Chamber of Congress had urged Congress to stand up and be ready to intervene ahead of Thursday morning’s announcement of the deal.
Commending Mr Biden and the Secretary of Labor for their role in the negotiations, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi confirmed that Congress was “ready to take action to ensure the uninterrupted operation of essential transportation services…”.
“Led by the Transport and Infrastructure Committee, the House drafted and reviewed the legislation, so that we would be prepared to act in accordance with Section 10 of the Railway Labor Act,” Pelosi said. “Thankfully this action may not be necessary.”
Ed O’Keefe, Steven Portnoy and Katherine Krupnick contributed to this report.