After the marathon talks reached a temporary agreement, the rail strike was called off

The agreement with unions representing more than 50,000 engineers and conductors, announced just after 5 a.m., was described in a statement from the White House as “an important victory for our economy and the American people.”

In Ethiopia, at 2:30 in the morning, a verbal agreement was reached between the two parties, and the last hours to check the details have been completed, sources said.

President Joe Biden called to speak with negotiators around 9 a.m. Wednesday, a person familiar with the negotiations said. Biden warned that if the rail system were to be shut down, it would be devastating to families, businesses and communities. Sources in the unions were crediting Biden’s call for the deal to be completed without a strike.

“We’re very proud of what’s been accomplished,” said Jeremy Ferguson, president of the Conductors Association, one of the conductors involved in the marathon. He credited Biden and Labor Department officials involved in the talks for the deal.

“It all comes together to make sure we can get our members what they deserve,” he said.

“This is the quality of life issue we’ve been trying to get for our members since negotiations began,” said Dennis Pierce, president of the Engineers Association and another union official who participated in the discussion.

The agreement does not mean that the threat of a strike has completely disappeared. The agreement must be approved by union members. But it’s good news for freight rail-based businesses and the broader U.S. economy. About 30% of the country’s freight is moved by rail.

A win for workers, railroads and the economy

The deal gives union members immediate 14% raises with back pay from 2020 to 2024, and a total of 24% raises over the five-year contract period. year.

Few other details about the deal have been released so far. But Biden’s statement indicated that the main sticking point — labor laws and scheduling issues — that brought the country into its first national railroad strike in 30 years — was conceded by the unions.

“It’s a victory for the tens of thousands of railroad workers who have worked tirelessly through the pandemic to ensure that American families and communities get through these difficult years,” he said. “These railroad workers will get better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind about their health care costs. It’s all hard-earned.”

Amtrak canceled all long-distance trains as a freight rail strike loomed.

The dispute is over labor shortages and scheduling regulations that union leaders say have pushed membership to breaking point. The unions said the railroads require their members to be “on call” and ready to go to work seven days a week at short notice. Leadership members of the two unions said they would not accept a contract without changes to those labor laws.

Biden described the deal as “a win for railroad companies that will be able to retain and hire more workers in an industry that will continue to be part of the backbone of the American economy for decades to come.”

It’s an important victory for Biden, who has faced nothing but bad choices without a deal. The business community’s support of congressional action to impose contracts on workers angered supporters among unions. Allowing the severe economic consequences of a shutdown before the midterm elections.

How we got here

Railroad workers are governed by different labor laws than most workers, which limit their right to strike and allow for greater government intervention. In July, Biden issued an executive order banning the strike at the time and created a panel known as the President’s Emergency Board to resolve the dispute.

A 60-day cooling-off period has been set during which unions cannot strike and management cannot lock out workers. That cooling off period ends early Friday.

After the cooling-off period expired Friday, Biden was unable to order the railroads to resume operations. Only Congress could get the unions back to work if they went on strike.

With several trade groups urging Congress to act, Republicans drafted legislation that would give railroad management the concessions they wanted. But Democrats resisted taking such a step.

A union source said Democrats’ unwillingness to side with the leadership was key to the conversation.

“The lack of Senate leadership has given room for these negotiations,” a union source said. During the negotiations, Walsh said he “stayed” with the union.

“Yesterday was a fairy tale,” he said more and more.

“Our people have not given up hope,” the source said. “Our people would have gone on strike if no agreement had been reached by Friday’s deadline.

The Association of American Railroads praised the agreement and thanked the Biden administration and the unions themselves for their role in reaching the agreement.

The salary increases and bonuses were recommended by the president’s team, which is charged with trying to resolve a stalemate in negotiations at the time.

Those terms have been lucrative enough for most railroad unions to agree to interim agreements in recent weeks, with engineers and conductors, faced with mutually exclusive labor and scheduling laws, refusing to sign without relief on the program issue. .

Share of Major Railways — Union Pacific (UNP), CSX (CSX) And Norfolk South (N.S.C) It was up 1 percent to 3 percent in premarket trading on the news. Shares of Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA)Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which owns the fourth largest national freight train, was also narrowly up.

Riots started early.

The threat of the strike has started disrupting the work. Amtrak, whose 22,000-mile system is only on freight rail outside the Northeast Corridor, has canceled all long-distance trains. Amtrak said it is “working to quickly restore canceled trains and accommodate affected customers on the first available departures.” He announced that he will provide the information soon.
The railways stopped accepting hazardous and safety-related materials a week ago. And on Wednesday, some railways stopped accepting crops from the agriculture industry.

Hard-hit railway customers were relieved that the strike was over.

“This is fantastic news for the economy,” Eric Hoplin, CEO of the National Wholesalers Association, said on CNN’s New Day Thursday. “My phone has been off the hook in the last 48 hours, talking to distribution leaders from across the country about what could be some dire consequences for the US supply chain and economy.”

The U.S. economy has weathered a number of economic shocks, including a 26 percent drop in prices at the pump over the past three months, including a potentially reversible increase in oil prices. Even though refineries found most of their oil by pipeline and shipped the gasoline they produced the same way, they still needed rail tankers to refine gasoline and deliver other materials to pick up waste products.

High food and auto prices and shortages of consumer goods during the holiday shopping season are likely to trigger extended strikes, business leaders and economists say.

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