Current Events

On the Heels of Labor Day, President Biden Brokered a Deal to Avoid Catastrophic Rail Strike

September 30, 2022

President Biden giving a speech
author bio pic of Parisis G. Filippatos

Written by Lily Filippatos

Brought to you by Filippatos Empoyment Law, Litigation & ADR

Earlier this month, freight rail companies and unions representing tens of thousands of workers struck a tentative deal to avoid a potentially catastrophic strike. The deal was facilitated by the Biden administration, reminiscent of President Biden’s long-standing advocacy for trade unions.

The deal was announced mere hours before workers would have been able to begin striking, with rail service across the United States already experiencing interruptions. As nearly a third of U.S. freight moves by rail, had the strike commenced, the economic consequences would have been severe: the Association of American Railroads estimated this would have idled more than 7,000 trains daily and cost the economy more than $2 billion a day.

President Biden says the deal will benefit both companies and workers, hailing the tentative agreement as “a win for tens of thousands of rail workers who worked tirelessly through the pandemic.” While the agreement included compromises from both sides, workers ultimately gained several benefits they had been pursuing, including better pay and more flexible schedules. One of the larger issues at hand, for instance, was the severity of working conditions, some freight rail engineers and conductors facing “on-call” schedules that had them working on very short notice, 24-hours-a- day and seven-days-a-week.

“This agreement is validation — validation of what I’ve always believed,” President Biden stated. “Unions and management can work together — can work together for the benefit of everyone.” However, while this potential strike was avoided due to intervention from the Biden administration, uncertainty still remains as most unions are yet to ratify the deal. While the ratification vote is tallied, workers have agreed not to strike.

Thus, one can only hope that the deal will indeed be ratified, as the hardworking Americans who power our rail industry deserve nothing less than fair and just working conditions. We at Filippatos PLLC stand wholeheartedly for the empowerment of workers, which we believe well- functioning unions achieve. It is heartening to see the recent rise in labor unions across our country, with New Yorkers joining labor unions at ten times the national average. The recent victory, for instance, of Staten Island workers forming the nation’s first unionized Amazon warehouse, as well as this rail deal brokered by the Biden administration, are indicative of a broader trend across our nation of employees standing up for their rights in the workplace.

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We at Filippatos Pllce believe all workers have the right to safe, equal, and fair working conditions. Our mission is to empower all employees, which is why we stand in firm support of workers organizing to preserve and protect their inherent rights in the workplace.

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