300 business groups are asking Biden to intervene in the train union contract vote

CNN business

Three hundred business groups are calling on President Joe Biden to intervene in the ratification of the tentative national agreement he helped broker last month between railroad unions and U.S. freight railroads.

In a letter to the president on Thursday, the retail, agricultural, manufacturing and trucking associations asked the president to ensure that the tentative agreement is ratified. Groups include the American Trucking Associations, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and the National Retail Federation.

“It is important to ratify these contracts now, as the closure of the railroad would have a significant impact on the US economy and lead to further inflationary pressures,” the letter states.

On Wednesday, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalers voted down a tentative deal – with about 60 percent of members voting “no.” Earlier this Last month, another rail union, BMWED, voted not to ratify the deal.

“There are concerns that others may follow. If that were the case, we would be witnessing a strike that would shut down the entire freight rail system,” the businesses wrote.

The groups believe the president’s intervention could encourage unions to vote for ratification, as he stressed the need to reach an agreement last month to prevent a nationwide strike by US freight trains that would bring the US supply chain and economy to a standstill. .

Six unions have confirmed this agreement, two have rejected it, and four have not voted. Among them are the two largest unions of engineers and conductors, BLET and SMART-TD. Their votes will be in November.

Unions that have voted for the deal so far, and all others that will in the future, can also authorize a strike if they don’t get a new deal by November 19. The move would send all 12 unions on the picket line. lines, whether they have ratified the agreement or not.

Congress can take two actions to prevent such a strike: extend the cooling-off period during which unions cannot strike, or impose a contract on union members.

Members of the two unions that voted for the deal are doing so because they don’t have paid sick time, according to their union leaders. Sick time is not paid under the current temporary agreement.

The new all-union contracts include an immediate 14% increase in retroactive pay starting in 2020, and a 24% total pay increase over the four-year term of the contracts, which runs from 2020 to 2024. bonuses of $1,000 per year.

All told, the back wages and bonuses will give union members an average payout of $11,000 per worker when the deal is ratified.