National rail strike averted
At the eleventh hour, U.S. railroads and unions agreed to a tentative contract brokered by the Biden administration, averting a rail strike that threatened to complicate an already stressed national supply chain. The parties agreed to a 14.1% wage increase.
Negotiations with just under 115,000 railroad employees represented by 12 unions had been underway since November 2019. In July, President Biden appointed a Presidential Advisory Board (PEB) to help both sides reach a new, voluntary agreement and imposed a “cooling off” period that ended September 16.
Just before the agreement was reached, NAFEM and other trade associations were in the process of drafting a letter to Congress asking them to intervene to avoid a strike.
Earlier, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wrote to House and Senate leaders also urging them to intervene and implement the PEB’s recommendations. Congress has previously mandated the parties to accept the recommendations of earlier PEBs in 1982 and 1986. Without an agreement or this intervention, the cost of a rail shutdown to the U.S. economy were estimated at $2 billion per day.