Tentative agreement reached for railway workers helps avoid nationwide strike

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 8:14 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2022 at 1:20 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - After tense negotiations, President Joe Biden announced early Thursday morning that a tentative agreement has been reached between the labor union and railroad companies, preventing the nationwide rail worker strike that experts say was going to cripple the U.S. economy.

President Biden released the following statement on Twitter early Thursday morning:

“This is a win for the economy and for the American people. Rail workers will get better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs. I thank both the unions and rail companies for negotiating in good faith.”

Prior to the announcement, hundreds of thousands of rail workers were planning to go on strike Friday if their demands for better sick leave and attendance policies were not granted by railroad companies.

The agreement now heads to union members for a ratification vote, which is a standard procedure in labor talks. While the vote is tallied, workers have agreed not to strike.

As part of the growing concerns surrounding a potential strike, many railway companies were implementing preliminary measures to avoid service disruptions in Georgia.

On Wednesday, Amtrak canceled all long-distance routes over concerns that freight trains might be stalled in some areas, blocking routes they use and share with freight trains in order to service their own passengers.

Amtrak also announced plans to shut down the Crescent Line that services parts of metro Atlanta and Gainesville on Thursday, but when CBS46 reached back out to Amtrak following the new agreement, Amtrak released the following statement:

“Amtrak is working to quickly restore canceled trains and reaching out to impacted customers to accommodate on first available departures. Will provide an update soon as information becomes available.”

Norfolk Southern and CSX, two other major train companies that operate freight trains in Georgia, shut down train exports of hazardous materials from entering Georgia as a preempted measure amid the looming strike.

Norfolk Southern told CBS46 to refer to the following statement released by The National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC), which represents the nation’s freight railroads in national collective bargaining.

“The National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC), which represents the nation’s freight railroads in national collective bargaining, today issued the following statement:We are pleased to announce that the nation’s freight railroads have reached tentative agreements with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters; the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Transportation Division; and the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen. Together, the three unions represent approximately 60,000 railroad employees.

The tentative agreements announced today follow the August 16 recommendations of Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) No. 250, which include a 24 percent wage increase during the five-year period from 2020 through 2024 — with a 14.1 percent wage increase effective immediately — and five annual $1,000 lump sum payments.Significantly, these tentative agreements avert a possible work stoppage on Friday, September 16. All tentative agreements are subject to ratification by the unions’ memberships.

The NCCC would like to thank the unions’ leadership teams for their professionalism and efforts during the bargaining process. We also would like to thank the Biden administration – in particular Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and his team, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and the board members and staff at the National Mediation Board – for their assistance in reaching these settlements.”