After around-theclock negotiations, President Joe Biden said Thursday that freight railway companies and workers had reached a tentative agreement that will avert a rail shutdown that could have paralyzed the economy.
Biden celebrated the deal alongside union leaders and rail executives at the White House Rose Garden, calling it a “big win for America” and for both sides of the labor dispute. He said rail workers will receive better pay, improved working conditions and a “peace of mind” over health insurance, while companies will strengthen their ability to recruit and retain workers.
“Together we reached an agreement that will keep our critical rail system working and avoid disruptions of our economy,” the president said, characterizing the deal as “validation” that unions and management “can work together.” Biden interjected himself directly into the dispute,warning both sides by phone that “a shutdown is unacceptable” as differences still remained unresolvedWednesday night after a day of talks with administration officials, according to two White House officials who discussed the president’s involvement on the condition of anonymity.
Finally, after 20 straight hours ofnegotiations, a deal was announced early Thursday morning after companies agreed to paid sick leave and other demands of unions. Ahead of a Friday deadline for a possible worker strike, railroads had prepared to halt the shipment of crops as soon as Thursday, while shipments of farm fertilizers were delayed this week.
Amtrak and commuter railroads had braced for service cuts, disruptions and cancellations amid the dispute that pitted Biden’s allegiances to
railway companies and unions against one another.
A strike from freight railroad workers could have further strained supply chains and delivered a damaging blow to Democrats before the midterm elections.
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