The Biden Boom continues now that the White House has just announced a tentative deal to avoid what would have been the first national railroad strike in three decades.
In a brief press conference Thursday morning, President Biden praised negotiators on both sides, saying the deal is “validation” that unions and management can work together.
“I am very pleased to announce a tentative labor agreement that’s been reached between the railway workers and the railway companies,” Biden said. “This agreement is a big win for America.”
It is an important victory for Biden.
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, a “card-carrying union member,” as POTUS referred to him, hosted the nearly 24-hour talks. Negotiations started Wednesday morning and ended after 2 a.m. on Thursday.
Walsh is the first union Labor Secretary in decades, Biden bragged.
A railroad strike would have crippled a still recovering supply chain after pandemic shutdowns. Thirty percent of the nation’s freight is carried by rail.
Consumer goods, gasoline, food, and grain are transported daily by railways.
The President applauded the agreement as a “win for tens of thousands of rail workers.” Thousands will see a 24% wage increase over the next five years, improved working conditions, and a cap on health care costs.
Over rail 50,000 workers involved in the negotiations were represented by unions whose new deal includes a number of other provisions, according to CNN:
The deal gives the union members an immediate 14% raise with back pay dating back to 2020, and raises totaling 24% during the five-year life of the contract, that runs from 2020 through 2024. It also gives them cash bonuses of $1,000 a year. All told, the backpay and earlier bonuses will give union members an average of an $11,000 payment per person once the deal is ratified.
Jeremy Ferguson, president of the Conductor’s Union, thanked Labor Department officials and President Biden— who personally called to talk to negotiators Wednesday evening. “We’re very proud of what was accomplished,” Ferguson said, adding, “Everybody pulled together to make sure that we could get our members what they deserved.”
As inflation stabilizes and gas prices continue to decline, avoiding an economy crippling strike is the win Biden and his administration needed to continue building on the policies aimed at getting America back on track.
“This is fantastic news for the economy,” Eric Hoplin, CEO of the National Association of Wholesale Distributors, told CNN on Thursday.
Original reporting by Chris Isidore, Vanessa Yurkevich, and Jeremy Diamond at CNN Business.
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