The threat of strike dissipated early Thursday morning after unions and railways came to an agreement, but the battle isn’t done yet.
- Years of union negotiations culminated early this week as unions threatened to strike if demands were not met. Strikes were narrowly avoided when the unions agreed to a tentative deal.
- After years of complaints centered around work schedules, wages, sick days, and health benefits, rail workers may finally have a better deal. Workers have complained that due to staff shortages, fewer employees are doing more labor.
- Workers’ pay has been frozen since negotiations started. If the deal is accepted by the union, employees will receive an immediate 14.1% wage increase along with more sick days and improved health care.
- Rail workers have agreed not to strike while the votes on the tentative deal are being tallied.
Why it’s news
Labor experts have warned that gaining enough votes to pass the new agreement may be more difficult than expected.
Workers are still upset about their treatment over the last several years and that sentiment could affect their votes. Some workers complained about the deal online, saying that the deal didn’t provide sufficient protections for workers, reported Lisa Baertlein at Reuters.
The White House was closely involved with negotiations, helping unions and railroad companies to agree to the tentative agreement early Thursday morning.
If the rail workers do strike, the U.S. supply chain would take a massive hit. A strike could cost the U.S. $2 billion per day and potentially shut down around 30% of U.S. freight capacity. Many passenger and commuter trains would also be affected.
The trucking industry would be unable to make up the difference in shipping needs. The industry is already struggling with its own shortage of drivers.
The voting will end sometime between September 28 and mid-October.