The nation’s railways will keep running after major rail companies and unions representing 115,000 workers reached a tentative deal on Sept. 15 to avoid a strike.
“The industry would like to thank all unions involved in negotiations for their efforts and dedication to reaching agreements throughout this process,” the Association of American Railroads said. “In addition, the industry thanks the Biden Administration, especially Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and the members and staff at the National Mediation Board, for their leadership and assistance in reaching these settlements.
The deal, if approved by a majority of union workers, would run for five years and include a 24 percent wage increase over that period and improvements to working conditions. Had a deal not been reached, experts estimate it would have frozen 30 percent of U.S. cargo shipments and cost the American economy $2 billion per day.
“The U.S. Chamber commends the nation’s six largest railroads, the 12 unions and the Biden administration for reaching agreement on a new labor contract,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne Clark said. “This is the best outcome for the American public and is a testament to the hard work and willingness to compromise from both sides. Our nation was very close to a national rail shutdown this week, the effects of which were already beginning to be felt throughout the business community, and would have had devastating impacts to American families and our economy. We are glad to see a rail strike averted and hope to see future negotiations finalized in a timely manner.”