A tentative agreement has been reached between labor unions and rail carriers to avert a railroad strike. The agreement includes immediate and future wage increases, along with additional time off. Unions will now be holding a ratification vote for the agreement, which should keep rail services running. Multiple reports indicate that the latest round of negotiations between union representatives and railroad companies lasted 20 hours.
“I thank the unions and rail companies for negotiating in good faith and reaching a tentative agreement that will keep our critical rail system working and avoid disruption of our economy,” President Joe Biden said in a press release. “For the American people, the hard work done to reach this tentative agreement means that our economy can avert the significant damage any shutdown would have brought.”
Had a tentative agreement not been reached, more than 115,000 rail workers were set to strike beginning on Friday. According to a report from the Association of American Railroads, a shutdown has the potential to cost the U.S. economy up to $2 billion per day. Agricultural organizations had been vocal about the negative impact a railroad strike would have on the industry as well as American consumers. Multiple industry groups such as the National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates celebrated the agreement for avoiding the catastrophic consequences of a strike.
“Our ag retailers and the farmers they serve depend on timely delivery of large quantities of supplies to produce the nation’s agricultural bounty, and that can’t happen without rail service,” said Agricultural Retailers Association President and CEO Daren Coppock. “The prospect of a rail strike would have further disrupted a supply chain that is already strained. We hope the unions will quickly ratify the agreement so this cloud of uncertainty can be cleared away.”