Rail Labor Secured a Good Deal. They Should Ratify.
FHSG President and railroad labor expert Jerry Glass wrote an op-ed for RealClear Policy about the potential rail strike:
We are in the midst of a golden age for labor. Support for unions has risen to the highest level since 1965. Many attribute the increase to the impact of the COVID pandemic not just on the labor market – which remains strained – but on how people view work.
This is particularly true in the more challenging, blue-collar jobs. One such profession – railroading – has been under the microscope this year unlike at any time since the early 1990s. Most Americans don’t pay attention to this sector, yet as railroads and labor union leaders recently went deep into the 11th hour to reach new collective bargaining agreements, the nation learned how important railroads are to our economy.
A shutdown would cost the economy some $2 billion per day and could worsen inflation. President Biden and cabinet leaders intervened, helping broker tentative agreements with the two largest unions, averting a strike, and sending the deals to workers to ratify.
Since August, six unions have ratified the deals, and four ratification votes are pending. Two unions have rejected the tentative agreement, and there is growing concern that some other unions may do the same and that we will again be facing economic calamity later this year.
This should not happen.
These are historically rich deals based on the framework recommended by a panel of three neutral arbitrators hand-picked by President Biden. The agreements are the product of the actions that elected rail labor leaders took with the support and direct intervention of the President, an unabashed supporter of organized labor. They will make jobs that already were in the 93rd percentile of total compensation of U.S. wage earners even better.