The agreement with labor unions representing more than 50,000 engineers and conductors was announced in a statement from the White House just after 5 a.m. ET in a “important victory for our economy and the American people.” I said yes.
A triumph for workers, railroads and the economy
The deal will provide members with an immediate 14% pay increase in arrears backdated to 2020, for a total pay increase of 24% over the five-year contract period from 2020 to 2024. Year.
Few other details of the deal have been disclosed so far. But Biden’s statement showed that the major issues that brought the country within a day of its first nationwide railroad strike in 30 years had been dealt with in favor of the union.
“The tens of thousands of railroad workers who have worked tirelessly through the pandemic to ensure that American families and communities get what has sustained us during this difficult time,” Biden said in a statement. “It’s a win,” he said.
The controversy was over staffing shortages and scheduling rules that union leaders said had pushed union members to a breaking point. They are demanding that they be ready to go to work on short notice. Officials from both unions said union members would not accept the contract unless labor rules were changed.
Biden said of the deal, “It’s also a win for the railroad, which will be able to secure and recruit more workers for the railroad industry that will remain part of the backbone of the American economy for decades to come.” said.
It’s an important win for Mr. Biden, who had to make bad choices without a deal. Supporting congressional action demanded by the business community to impose contracts on workers would have angered his supporters within the unions. Just before the midterm elections, prolonging work stoppages risked a huge economic impact.
How we got here
A 60-day cooling-off period was also imposed, during which unions could not strike and management could not lock out workers. That cooling-off period was due to end early Friday morning.
Biden could not have ordered the railroads to continue operating after the cooling-off period ended on Friday.
With a wide range of business groups calling for action in Congress, Republicans were preparing a bill that would make the deal railroad owners want. However, Democrats opposed taking such action.
Union sources said Democrats’ refusal to side with management was key to the negotiations.
“The inaction of Senate leadership has given room for these negotiations,” said a union source.
“Yesterday was tough,” he said, back and forth many times.
“Our people weren’t going to give up,” said a source. If no deal was reached by Friday’s deadline, “our people would have gone on strike.”
The American Railroad Association also applauded the deal, thanking the Biden administration and the labor unions themselves for playing an agreed role.
Salary increases and bonuses were recommended by a presidential commission seeking a solution to the bargaining deadlock at the time.
Those terms have been lucrative enough for most rail unions to agree to interim deals in recent weeks. Engineers and conductors faced working and scheduling rules that didn’t apply to others and refused to sign without alleviating the scheduling problem. .