The White House hands out massive amounts of money and kicks the rail strike can down the road.
We have been following the looming rail strike closely, as it has the potential to cost the economy $2 billion each day and worsen the already problematic supply chain crisis.
And while the mainstream media touts the agreement between the government and the rail unions as a win for Biden, a closer analysis would suggest it is anything but. The can has simply been kicked further down the road.
President Joe Biden said on Thursday that a ‘tentative’ deal has been reached between US freight rail companies and unions, averting a potentially devastating strike before the pivotal midterm elections.
The agreement, hashed out as a national rail strike loomed at midnight on Friday, will raise rail employees salaries 24 percent from the period from 2020 to 2024, with workers getting an average lump sum payment of $11,000 for the backdated portion of the raise, according to a group representing rail companies.
Biden called the deal ‘a win for tens of thousands of rail workers who worked tirelessly through the pandemic to ensure that America’s families and communities got deliveries of what have kept us going during these difficult years.’
As negotiations between the rail companies and the unions came down to the wire, the White House and Biden’s Labor Secretary Martin J. Walsh had stepped in to help broker an agreement.
The tentative agreement must now be voted on by union members.
The deal may be hard to sell to union members, who are already upset over the administration’s covid policies.
Workers have gone three years without a raise amid the contract dispute, with talks stalling over attendance, sick time and scheduling issues. Only two of 12 unions – representing less than 10% of the workforce – are known to have ratified new contracts with freight railways.
The unions, including two large groups representing around 60,000 workers, will need to persuade their members to vote for Thursday’s deal. That might be a tough sell, labor experts warned.
“There’s a lot of anger among the members of these two unions because they feel, after being essential workers during the COVID pandemic, they were getting screwed on the attendance policy and getting punished for taking sick leave,” said Seth Harris, a professor of Northeastern University and former Biden administration official focused on labor and the economy.
One rail union has already voted “no.”
The details of the ratification vote have yet to be set but it is likely weeks away. Although the unions’ leadership described the agreement as a negotiating win, a successful ratification vote is not yet assured.
Some union members appeared to criticize the deal on social media, and the unions’ leadership conceded that some rank-and-file members may be unsatisfied with the deal.
…A smaller railroad union has already voted to reject the tentative agreement — the unit of the Machinists union that has 5,000 members working as mechanics for locomotive and track equipment and facility maintenance personnel. But that union is not preparing to go on strike immediately and instead will try to seek a new deal by the end of the month. The deal reached with the engineers and conductors could affect those negotiations.
Biden continues to plug policy leaks with loads of money until November’s ballots are counted.DONATE
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