Ag groups are relieved workers and employers reached a tentative agreement
By Diego Flammini
U.S. agriculture groups are pleased to hear railroad unions and companies reached a tentative agreement, averting a nationwide strike.
“The efficient operation of our rail network, which moves 25 percent of all U.S. grain, is crucial to a functioning agricultural economy,” Mike Seyfert, president and CEO of the National Grain and Feed Association, said in a Sept. 15 statement. “NGFA members, which include 1,000 companies that handle U.S. grains and oilseeds, commend both parties for working in good faith toward an agreement and preventing severe economic damage.”
“Our country’s reputation as the world’s most reliable wheat supplier depends heavily on functioning rail transportation and that won’t change in the future,” U.S. Wheat Associates President Vince Peterson said in a Sept. 15 release. “So, we welcome this tentative agreement and hope both sides continue to work together to serve shippers like the U.S. wheat industry.”
Thousands of rail workers prepared to strike Friday if unions and employers couldn’t reach common ground.
The two sides agreed to a tentative deal on Thursday.
Union members must ratify the deal before it’s finalized. But workers agreed not to strike during the ratification process.
The tentative agreement raises worker wages by 24 percent dating back to 2020, averaging about $11,000 per worker.
Workers will also be allowed to take time off to attend medical appointments. That time off will be unpaid.
This agreement benefits both parties, said President Biden.
“These rail workers will get better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs: all hard-earned,” he said in a statement. “The agreement is also a victory for railway companies who will be able to retain and recruit more workers for an industry that will continue to be part of the backbone of the American economy for decades to come.”