Railroad Stike Possibly Affecting the Economy and Politics in the Midterm Election

President Biden speaks about the Tentative Railway Agreement at the White House

Andrew Harnik

President Biden speaks about the Tentative Railway Agreement at the White House

Sophia Jones, Photojournalist

Railroad workers may go on strike for higher pay and better work conditions. Congress and the President could get involved because this strike could cause a big problem for the supply chain in the United States. According to the Association of American Railroads trade group, it would negatively affect the economy by about two billion dollars a day. It would stop the transportation of so many businesses and prevent people from receiving many different things. Because of this, the Biden Administration was ready to change transportation of these goods to airplanes and trucks.  Ishani Bhatt (9) comments on this, saying how “the strike has the potential to greatly affect the transportation of many goods from industries, ranging from supplies to food. If the railroad systems can’t get to certain places, then it can postpone or even stop the goods from coming in which could cause businesses to stop selling or go bankrupt.” 

 

Railroad workers have taken notice of what has been left out of and what is in a new agreement created by the Biden Administration. The agreement was made to try to prevent the railroad strike. They tried to give the workers different advantages, such as new rules about days off and many other things. The rail workers and union leaders are pushing for 15 days of paid sick leave, yet the new agreement only has one day. Workers are confused as to what they gain from the deal. There are no clear words and details pertaining to days off in the deal. Since the contract is very vague, people feel that it wasn’t made to truly help the workers. The strike will not be officially over until there is a much stronger contract and workers feel comfortable and confident with the new rules. 

If the railroad systems can’t get to certain places, then it can postpone or even stop the goods from coming in which could cause businesses to stop selling or go bankrupt.”

— Ishani Bhatt (9)

The original agreement was not helpful for all rail workers since it only affected the two largest railroads: SMART and The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. The union is restarting negotiation this week and, depending on how it takes place, the workers can go on strike as soon as September 29. This is very important to politics because the midterms elections are coming up. Democrats don’t want to be held responsible for not solving the railroad strike issue. This is a possibility because of how much the administration has been involved in it, including Biden’s top economic adviser and chief of staff helping bargain with the workers. Biden conducted a meeting in July to discuss and resolve a possible railroad strike.

 

This emergency board discussed and includes much higher pay for workers, yet it didn’t take into account how workers felt about other issues, such as the attendance policy. This led to a new tentative contract that only applies to two unions. It would significantly affect the workers’ pay while also allowing for them to have a single day off, assigned voluntary days off, and excused doctor’s visits. Details remain vague, with no absolute numbers being discussed in any party involved in these meetings.

 

However, the tentative deal is the first time that any railroad workers have bargained to reach a goal and a deal over attendance policies affecting workers. On September 15, 2022, President Biden said, “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.” This shows how serious the strike is and how Congress and the Biden Administration are all working to bargain with the workers and stop it.