On Thursday, the US freight rail companies and unions reached a “tentative” deal to avoid a nationwide rail strike that would wreak havoc on the US economy, potentially costing it $2 billion a day.
Just a day prior, Amtrak had announced its cancellation of all long-distance trains in preparation for the anticipated rail strike, which would result in economic disaster. Had the strike occurred, it would have been the first in 30 years.
The Biden administration intervened in the negotiations to prevent further economic downturn and soaring inflation before the November elections, which would not bode well for the Democrat party.
White House officials held emergency meetings to try and broker a deal between the rail companies and the rail workers.
After 20 hours of intense negotiation, the conflicting parties finally reached a tentative agreement that will raise the salaries of rail employees by 24% for 2020 to 2024, and workers will get an average lump sum payment of $11,000 for the backdated portion of the payment increase.
Biden celebrated this deal being reached in his remarks in the Rose Garden Thursday morning, saying, “These rail workers will get better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs: all hard-earned.”
“They earned and deserve these benefits,” he added. “And this is a great deal for both sides, in my view.”
Biden also touted the deal as a “win for tens of thousands of rail workers and for their dignity.”
This tentative agreement will now have to be voted on by union members, but even if it is rejected, the imminent rail shutdown has been avoided, at least for the next several weeks.