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Experts have warned that Joe Biden’s deal to give train workers a pay rise to avoid major shutdowns on Friday could lead to more large settlements in the future.
The Biden administration reached a tentative deal on Thursday to raise railway workers’ salaries by 24 percent, but labor experts say the deal could serve as a measure of success for future strikers.
“This is a very, very controversial time,” Michael Lotito, co-chair of the Workplace Policy Institute in Littler, told the Wall Street Journal. “I think that will encourage unions to demand more.”
The forecast comes as Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) reported that the number of strikers in the US will triple to 78,000 in the first half of 2022 compared to the same period last year.
Michael Lotito (left), co-chair of the Workplace Policy Institute in Littler, warned that Joe Biden’s deal to raise railroad workers’ salaries by 24 percent to avoid a shutdown could be viewed by future strikers as a measure of success. used
In the first half of 2022, there were 180 strikes involving 78,000 workers, about triple the number at the same time last year
There have been 271 strikes so far this year, with the majority in California, Washington and Pennsylvania. Pictured: A tracker of the labor disputes of 2022
According to the ILR, there were about 180 strikes in the first half of 2022, compared to 102 in the same time last year, with only 26,500 workers joining the strikes.
At the end of 2021, there were a total of 265 strikes in the US, involving about 62,000 workers.
There have been a total of 271 strikes this year, with a majority in California, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Experts call the pandemic the main cause of the rampant strikes.
Lotito told the WSJ that two years of COVID has made the jobs of many more difficult and dangerous, leaving many feeling they are not getting the pay and respect they deserve from their employers.
Among these frustrated employees were those who worked in health care. This week saw more than 15,000 nurses in Minnesota go on strike for three days as they sought a 30 percent pay increase over the next three years.
The nurses have returned to work without a deal for new contracts, but it remains unclear whether they will strike again under new demands.
Arthur Wheaton, director of labor studies at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, said it was the perfect time for workers to go on strike while facing less risky consequences.
“As long as the job market remains good and people can find jobs and inflation is high, there is less risk of going on strike,” Wheaton told the WSJ.
In 2021, the US saw a total of 265 strikes, involving about 62,000 workers
Even if union leaders reject Biden’s deal, a track closure has been averted for several weeks
President Joe Biden said Thursday that a preliminary railroad labor agreement had been reached, averting a potentially devastating strike ahead of the crucial midterm elections.
On Thursday, Biden called his deal “a victory for tens of thousands of railroad workers who have worked tirelessly through the pandemic to ensure American families and communities received supplies of what has kept us going during these difficult years.”
When negotiations between the railroads and unions stalled, the White House and Biden’s Secretary of Labor, Martin J. Walsh, intervened to reach an agreement.
The preliminary agreement must now be voted on by union members.
But even if they reject it, according to a person familiar with the negotiations, a rail stop has been averted for several weeks because of the default language included in such a deal.
Had the strike continued, it would have cost an estimated $2 billion a day in economic disruption by halting the flow of goods and disrupting rail passenger traffic, which typically uses freight lines.
The preliminary agreement was reached with multiple unions representing about 60,000 employees of the country’s private railway companies, meaning the lump sum payment alone will cost the companies about $660 million.
The median annual salary for locomotive engineers is currently about $73,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other vital railroad workers covered by the deal include signalmen and several other jobs.