US President Joe Biden has signed a bill into law that prevents railroad workers from staging the first national walkout in three decades.
This settles a spat between railroad companies and its unions, which had led to the possibility of a strike on 9 December 2022.
Biden said that a strike would lead to as many as 765,000 job losses in the first two weeks alone and cost the US economy $2bn per day.
This walkout would have frozen around 30% of US cargo shipments by weight, translating into ‘devastating’ economic consequences for workers and communities, the President further noted.
Approved overwhelmingly by the Senate (80 to 15), the bill imposes a tentative agreement reached in September that was ratified by eight of the 12 unions involved.
These eight unions represent around 43,000 workers, while four of the unions opposing the agreement comprise around 54,500 workers.
The opposing unions have been vying for paid sick leave, which was not passed.
Biden said: “Our nation’s rail system is literally the backbone of our supply chain, as you all well know. And so much of what we rely on is delivered on our rail, from clean water to food and gas and every, every other good. A rail shutdown would have devastated our economy.
“Without freight rail, many of the US industries would literally shut down. In the event of a shutdown, my economic advisers report that as many as 765,000 Americans, many of them union members themselves, would have been put out of work for the first time and, excuse me, within the first two weeks of this, of the strike alone.”