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Rail union official says 'lot of anger, confusion and hostility' with Biden deal, may fall apart

A strike would cause widespread economic problems ahead of the midterm elections this November.

Published: September 18, 2022 1:41pm

Updated: September 18, 2022 5:09pm

The Biden administration-backed agreement to avoid a railroad strike could fall apart as some railroad workers are expressing anger over the deal.

Railroad Workers United organizer Ron Kaminkow, whose organization represents railway personnel below management level, said there is "a lot of anger, confusion and hostility" over the new agreement, according to an article published Sunday by The Hill.

Rail workers are scheduled to vote Thursday morning about the tentative deal, and the voting is likely to last into October. If any of the 12 unions do not ratify a new contract, nearly 125,000 workers could strike. Railroads carry about one-third of U.S. freight, and a strike would cause widespread economic problems ahead of the midterm elections this November.

The tentative deal would give workers 24% raises over five years, along with back pay and cash bonuses, and it would allow workers to take off time for scheduled events without penalty, among other things. Some workers say the contract is purposely vague, especially about sick leave and voluntary days off.

University of Illinois Labor and Employment Relations Professor Robert Bruno predicted that the deal will eventually be approved, but many workers will still vote "no."

"That will signal a level of continuing grievance on the part of the membership. It wouldn't surprise me if a fairly substantial number of members voted 'no' in part because of how genuinely abused they feel," he told The Hill.

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