Rail strike averted as Biden welcomes union deal: Update

WASHINGTON—After round-the-clock negotiations, President Joe Biden said Thursday that freight railroads the company and workers had reached a tentative agreement This will avoid rail closures that could paralyze the economy.

Biden celebrated the deal with union and railroad officials in the White House Rose Garden, calling it a “big win for both America and the labor dispute.” He said railroad workers would receive better wages, improved working conditions, and “peace of mind” over health insurance, while companies would strengthen their ability to recruit and retain workers.

“We have reached an agreement to keep our critical rail system functioning and to avoid economic disruption,” the president said, adding that the deal was a “verification” that unions and management were “able to work together.” Stated.

Mr. Biden intervened directly on the issue, warning both sides by phone that a “shutdown is unacceptable,” according to two White House officials. Anonymous.

Finally, after 20 straight hours of negotiations, the deal was announced early Thursday morning after the companies agreed to paid sick leave and other union demands.

Ahead of Friday’s deadline for a possible workers’ strike, the railroad was also preparing to stop crop shipments on Thursday, but farm fertilizer shipments were delayed this week.

Amtrak and Commuter Rail have braced for service cuts, disruptions and cancellations amid controversies that pit Biden’s loyalties to railroad companies and unions against each other.

Freight rail workers strike further strains supply chains, A Blow to the Democrats Before the Midterm Elections.

Amtrak Cancellation:Amtrak working to recover canceled trips after rail strike averted in freight deals

Bernie Sanders says ‘real progress’ has been made in rail deals

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said the deal represented “real progress” after thwarting Senate Republican pressure to force Congress to set the terms of the railroad workers’ contracts. but said union members still need to vote to ratify the deal.

“I congratulate unions for standing strong and making it clear that they must treat workers with respect at a time when the industry is enjoying record profits,” Sanders told reporters. said.

He added: “Of course, when people get sick, they can take time off and not have to worry about being laid off.”

Biden tells railroad industry and unions ‘closure is unacceptable’

When the stalemate shifted Wednesday night, Biden intervened with a 9 p.m.

“The shutdown is unacceptable,” he told negotiators over speakerphone, according to two White House officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the president’s involvement.

He warned of the devastating impact a railroad closure would have on communities amid already strained supply chains.

“If one side is moving, the other side must also be moving,” the president told the parties.

Biden: Railroads are the ‘backbone of the economy’

Railroads are the “backbone of the economy,” Biden said Thursday, praising an interim agreement between unions and railroad companies to avoid a shutdown.

After meeting with the negotiators who brokered the deal in the Oval Office, Mr. Biden said in a brief remark at the Rose Garden, “I have a visual image of railroads as the backbone, literally the backbone of the economy. there is,” he said.

Biden said the trains carry “everything you need” from clean water to food to liquefied natural gas.

Shutdowns disrupt supply chains and contribute to perpetual inflation of consumer goods.

As Biden was about to return to the White House, a reporter asked the president what he would say to Americans struggling with rising food prices.

“The rails move, but they don’t go up,” he replied.

“Feel good”

As the two parties met in the Oval Office early in the morning, Biden shared his longtime favorite story of riding Amtrak and thanked businesses and unions for overcoming their differences.

As a senator, Biden commuted between Washington and Delaware.

“I feel good,” he said, referring to 20 hours of uninterrupted talks on the brink of a rail strike. “They should be in bed.”

terms of trade

The deal includes wage increases, bonuses, no copay and deductible increases, and, for the first time, paid leave and waivers of medical visits for sick workers. The railway company’s strict attendance policy was an obstacle for his two largest trade unions, representing conductors and engineers, which eventually resisted.

Terms of trade include:

  • Voluntarily assigned holiday plus 1 additional paid vacation day (Rail Freight Workers have no sick leave).
  • Guaranteed time for medical examination.
  • Your current medical plan will not be interrupted.
  • Immediate wage increases of 14% and 24% over the next five years.
  • One-time bonus of $5,000 per year.

“The solidarity shown by our members, the essential workers of this economy who keep America’s freight trains running, has made a difference as we reach agreement,” the Trainmen said in a joint statement. .

Members of the union must vote to finalize the contract.

Amtrak cancels trains:Amtrak was canceling long-distance trains ahead of possible strike

Strike impact:Looming rail strike could be ‘economic disaster’, affecting consumers from every angle

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh led 20 straight hours of meetings with union and carrier leaders in Washington that spilled into Thursday morning. He praised the “struggling and reciprocal deal”.

“Our rail system is vital to our supply chain and any disruption would have been devastating to industries, travelers and families across the country. Walsh said in a tweet.

President Joe Biden walks with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh before an event at the White House Rose Garden on Sept. 15, 2022 in Washington. Biden has announced a temporary labor deal between the freight rail company and unions representing tens of thousands of workers.

Terms Beyond Recommendations

New contract negotiations between six of the largest U.S. freight forwarders (Union Pacific, CSX, Norfolk Southern, BNSF, Canadian National and Kansas City Southern) and 12 unions date back almost three years. In July, Biden appointed a presidential emergency committee to mediate the dispute.Nine unions had already agreed to terms.

By ensuring paid time off for medical visits, the deal went beyond the recommendations of Biden’s presidential commission and was a major victory for the unions who demanded benefits.

Ian Jeffries, president and CEO of the American Railroad Association, said that just as the freight sector moves into peak shipping season, work stoppages are “a cost of $2 billion worth of unnecessary work each day.” “It will bring a huge economic blow,” he said.

Biden this week tried to avoid the shutdown by personally contacting railroad company and union representatives.

A White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity about the meeting said the White House is investigating contingencies, including summoning emergency officials to ensure the delivery of critical materials in the event of an emergency. rice field.

A clear victory for the unions

In the end, the union that threatened a freight train strike over the labor dispute was the clear winner in the deadlock.

Ferguson and Pierce said, “Most importantly, this agreement will allow members to take time off work to participate in routine and preventive care, and will be waived from hospital and surgical attendance policies. For the first time, it has become possible,” said a statement by them on behalf of their union.

Republican lawmakers used Congressional powers to intervene and introduce legislation adopting the Board’s recommendations to all 115,000 union railroad workers.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) opposed a Republican move to pass the bill unanimously on Wednesday, giving labor unions time to press their demands to the end.

Railroads thank unions, Biden administration

The country’s largest freight rail company said it had reached agreements with three unions that had refrained from supporting new contracts.

These holdouts, representing about 60,000 rail workers, are:

  • Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Railroad Workers of the International Brotherhood of Engineers
  • International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Transportation Division (SMART-TD)
  • Brotherhood of Railway Signalmen

The American Railroad Association, a coalition representing the railroad industry, issued a statement thanking “the efforts of all unions involved in the negotiations” and the support of the Biden administration.

Amtrak struggles to restore service

Amtrak was working to reverse the cancellation it announced Thursday.

“Amtrak is working to quickly restore canceled trains, reach out to affected customers, and accommodate the first available departures,” Biden broke news of the tentative agreement. The system announced shortly after.

Pelosi: Congress was ready to act

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Thursday morning that Congress was also considering any action it could take.

“Under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, Congress has the power and responsibility to ensure the uninterrupted operation of critical transportation services, and has enacted laws to that end in the past,” Pelosi said. “The House of Commons, led by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has prepared and considered a bill ready to act pursuant to Section 10 of the Railway Labor Code.”

Biden’s Loyalty Tested

Biden, politically stymied as an outspoken supporter of labor unions, desperately wanted to avoid the effects of the shutdown.

More than any other modern president, Biden regularly praises organized labor. He said last year that his goal was to become “the most pro-union president leading the most pro-union administration in American history.”

The strike and bottlenecked supply chains could have given new ammunition to Republicans seeking to regain control of Congress in the November elections, undermining Democrats’ confidence in the economy.

Such a setback may have halted Biden’s recent momentum. After a string of legislative victories in Congress and falling gas prices, the president is experiencing a rise in his approval ratings. And the Democrats are energized by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, reversing their once pessimistic prospects of maintaining control of Congress.

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