Rail Strike Averted

September 15, 2022
Aerial view of a railroad station

The rail companies and union negotiators came to a tentative agreement that balances the needs of workers, businesses, and our nation’s economy.

U.S. Labor Secretary Martin Walsh on an averted railroad strike, which had the potential to cause “catastrophic” economic impact.

Why It Matters: The American railway is critical to the U.S. economy — shipping 40% of all goods moved long distances. Passenger trains also rely on freight train tracks. A one-day interruption to the nation's rail service could stop more than 7,000 trains and potentially cost the U.S. economy more than $2 billion, causing more delays to the already-stressed supply chain.

  • Railroad workers were planning a strike for Friday but after 20 hours of negotiations — with the U.S. Labor Department hosting talks — a tentative deal has been reached to prevent it.
  • The agreement still needs to be ratified in a vote among union workers but they have agreed not to strike while votes are being tallied.
  • From the Association of American Railroads: "The nation’s freight railroads are pleased to announce that tentative agreements have been reached … these new contracts provide rail employees a 24 percent wage increase during the five-year period from 2020 through 2024, including an immediate payout on average of $11,000 upon ratification …"
  • Something to Consider: The last railway strike was 30 years ago when workers walked off their jobs and shut down most freight railroads. Congress intervened and passed legislation, giving workers new contracts. Pres. George H.W. Bush remarked that the strike "ought to end the day it begins."

Railroad Unions and Companies Reach a Tentative Deal to Avoid a Strike (The New York Times)

Sec. Walsh's tweet announcing the deal

by Jenna Lee,