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Railroad strike averted after marathon talks reach tentative deal

Home News Railroad strike averted after marathon talks reach tentative deal

Railroad strike averted after marathon talks reach tentative deal

Unions and management reached a tentative deal early Thursday, averting a freight railroad strike that had threatened to cripple US supply chains and push prices higher for many goods.

The deal with unions representing more than 50,000 engineers and conductors was announced just after 5 a.m. ET in a statement from the White House, which called it “an important win for our economy and the American people.”

A verbal agreement between the two sides was reached at about 2:30 am ET according to sources, and the final hours were spent getting the details worked out.

That concluded about 20 hours of talks between the unions’ leadership and the railroads’ labor negotiators hosted by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. They began their meeting Wednesday morning with the clock ticking down to a strike that had been set to start at 12:01 am ET on Friday.

President Joe Biden called in personally to talk to negotiators around 9 pm ET Wednesday, according to a person familiar with negotiations. Biden stressed that catastrophic harm could come to families, businesses and communities if the rail system shut down. Sources within the unions were giving Biden’s call credit for helping to get the deal completed without a strike.

“We’re very proud of what was accomplished,” said Jeremy Ferguson, president of the conductors union and one of the leaders involved in the marathon session. He thanked Biden and Labor Department officials involved in the talks for the deal.

“Everybody pulled together to make sure that we could get our members what they deserved,” he said.

“This is the quality of life issue we have been trying to get for our members since bargaining started,” said Dennis Pierce, president of the engineers’ union and the other union official involved in the talks.

The deal needs to be ratified by union members before it can go into effect and totally end the threat of a strike. But it’s good news for a wide range of businesses that depend upon the freight railroads to continue to operate, and for the wider US economy. About 30% of the nation’s freight moves by rail.

Source: CNN Business

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