The first national U.S. rail strike in 30 years has seemingly been avoided at the last minute.
A tentative agreement between two rail unions, representing more than 50,000 engineers and conductors, and railroads’ labor negotiators was struck on Thursday morning, averting a national freight railroad strike that would have crippled the U.S. supply chain and caused widespread cancellations to some rail networks.
The agreement, which was announced by the White House on Thursday, comes just hours before the strike was set to start and gives union members a pay raise with back pay dating back to 2020 and annual cash bonuses.
In a statement, the White House thanked both the unions and the 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.
The deal now has to be ratified by union members.
While the labor negations did not involve Amtrak or the Amtrak workforce, many of its routes operated over freight railroad strikes. Amtrak was anticipating there to be cancellations nationwide, though some of its most popular routes in the Northeast, including its Acela line, would have only had “minimal changes.”
The deal avoids those cancellations for Amtrak, though it had preemptively suspended some service in anticipation of the strike. It also removes any threats to the U.S. supply chain, which had already been stretched because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amtrak is now “working to quickly restore canceled trains and reaching out to customers to accommodate on first available departures.”