Biden announces an “interim agreement” to avert the strike of the national railways

Provisional agreement reached to avoid railway strike


Provisional agreement reached to avoid railway strike

01:33

President Biden announced early Thursday morning that days of negotiations at the U.S. Department of Labor to avoid a national rail strike. with potentially important implications for the economy, had given up a deal. In a statement, Biden said that “the interim agreement reached tonight is a major victory for our economy and the American people. It is a victory for tens of thousands of rail workers who worked tirelessly during the pandemic to ensure families and American communities received deliveries of what kept us going through these difficult years. ”

Biden said US railroad workers “will get better pay, better working conditions, and peace of mind on health care costs – all hard-earned” thanks to the deal, which he said was “also a victory for the railroad companies. it will be able to retain and recruit more workers for an industry that will continue to be part of the backbone of the US economy for decades to come. “

CBS News senior White House correspondent Ed O’Keefe says the deal will now go to unions for a vote to finalize the deal. The unions called the deal a “real win”, advertising improvements towards the benefits of life.

A source familiar with the talks told O’Keefe that the negotiating parties had agreed on a “post-ratification cooling-off period” of several weeks, to ensure that if a vote fails for any reason, there is no immediate closure of the vote. railroad.

On Wednesday night, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh oversaw a marathon negotiation session at the Department of Labor that led to the deal, and CBS News learned that Mr. Biden made what a source described as a “crucial call. “in the negotiations around 21:00 local time.

Walsh said in a tweet that “after more than 20 consecutive hours of negotiations” in the Department of Labor, “the railway companies and union negotiators have come to an interim agreement that balances the needs of workers, businesses and the economy of the country. our nation “.

The announcement came a few hours after Amtrak he said he was canceling all long-distance travel since Thursday amidst the threat of a strike, which could have disrupted not only passenger and freight services, but the US economy. The railway companies had warned that the strike could result in a loss of productivity of 2 billion dollars a day.

In light of the deal announced Thursday morning, Amtrak said it was “working to quickly restore” the canceled trains “and contacting affected customers to accommodate the first available departures.”

The root of the problem was a labor dispute between the railway companies and their unionized workforce. If the two sides had not reached an agreement, the strike should have started shortly after midnight on Friday.

A Labor Department spokesman told CBS News Wednesday evening that the dinner had been ordered and that talks in Washington between federal officials, railroad executives and union leaders of railroad workers were underway. Mr. Biden’s statement on the deal came in around 5am Thursday morning.


The threat of a nationwide rail strike poses risks in the supply chain

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Without the deal, the strike would have started on Friday at the end of a 30-day “cooling-off” period under the terms of the Railway Labor Act, which regulates contractual talks in the rail and air sectors.

It was the Association of American Railways that warned that shutting down freight trains could cost the US economy more than $ 2 billion a day. If a closure were to last more than a few days, the impact would likely be felt by millions of consumers, as it would disrupt the shipment of virtually all retail products, coal, other fuels and manufacturing components.

Commuters would also be out of luck, as many passenger trains run on freight tracks that would remain inactive during a strike, experts say.

In the past, most recently in 1986, Congress has taken action to end rail strikes. If an agreement had not been reached this week, both chambers could have passed – and the president would have signed it – a joint resolution effectively forcing railway workers to continue working under the terms set by an emergency council set up by the White House earlier this year. The United States House of Congress had urged Congress to stand by and be ready to intervene before the agreement was announced on Thursday morning.

In a statement praising Biden and the Secretary of Labor for their roles in the negotiations, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed that Congress was “ready to act … to ensure the uninterrupted operation of essential transportation services” .

“Led by the Transport and Infrastructure Commission, the House prepared and reviewed the legislation so that we were ready to act, under Section 10 of the Rail Work Act, Pelosi said.” Fortunately this action may not be necessary. ” .

Steven Portnoy of CBS News contributed to this report.

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