Railroad companies and labor unions reach agreement, preventing strike


Koji Haruna

Railroads across the country threaten to strike possibly causing major economic problems around the globe.

Elle Weber, The Carroll News

As of Sept. 1, tentative agreements have been reached between the railroad companies and labor unions. Due to this agreement, the United States narrowly avoids a strike that would have crippled the American economy and railroad workers get better pay, medical leave and paid time off. 

This deal was made after years of discontent over the working conditions that railroad employees had to endure. The railroad industry has already been facing staff shortages; according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, over 40,000 jobs have been lost since 2018. The industry dropped from over one million workers in the 1950s to just under 150,000 workers currently. Rail workers are on call 24/6 365 days a year and often complain that they lack work-life balance in the profession. This combined with an increase in workload, no medical or paid leave and low pay, the workers threatened a strike. 

A strike would have significantly impacted the American economy with the New York Times reporting the possible loss of over two billion dollars a day. Railroads move one-third of all exports in the United States and a strike would mean this cargo would not go on the market, causing inflation and food shortages. As of 11 a..m. on Sept. 15, an agreement has been made to avoid such damage. 

The deal includes a 24% wage increase over a five-year period and an extra $11,000 in compensation once ratified. In addition, the deal includes medical leave and exemptions from attendance for hospitalization, along with time off for preventative appointments. This deal is now up for ratification. 

Elizabeth Stiles, a professor of Political Science and Pre-Law Advisor at John Carroll, added to the issue, “There were substantial benefits in the package for the worker. But with the cost of labor rising, we would expect some benefits to accrue just by market pressures. The time off to go to appointments is not paid which is not as good as paid but overall the payout per worker should be about $11,000. They also get an additional day off and their insurance premiums won’t rise after the contract period expires.”

President Joe Biden called the deal a win for the economy and the people of America. In a press release later that day he stated  “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.