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Pres. Biden calls tentative labor deal a ‘big win for America’ as railroad strike is averted
President Joe Biden said Thursday that freight railway companies and workers had reached a tentative agreement that will avert a rail shutdown that could have paralyzed the economy.
After 20 straight hours of negotiations, companies agreed to paid sick leave – for the first time – and other demands of unions.
The terms of the deal also include:
- Voluntary assigned days off and one additional paid day off. Currently, rail freight workers don’t have any sick days. Unions had sought 15 paid sick days.
- Guaranteed time away for medical visits;
- No disruptions to current health care plans;
- An immediate wage increase of 14% and 24% over the next five years;
- Annual lump sum bonuses of $5,000.
What could have happened? Ahead of a Friday deadline for a possible worker strike, railroads had prepared to halt the shipment of crops as soon as Thursday, while shipments of farm fertilizers were delayed this week.
Amtrak and commuter railroads had braced for service cuts, disruptions and cancellations amid the dispute that pitted Biden’s allegiances to railway companies and unions against one another.
“Our rail system is integral to our supply chain, and a disruption would have had catastrophic impacts on industries, travelers and families across the country,” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said in a tweet.
How to get reimbursed for your Amtrak cancellation: Amtrak is hustling to get its trains back on track after preemptively canceling all long-distance passenger service for Thursday. USA TODAY’s Travel team has answered all your questions about how to be compensated for the unexpected disruption.
Real quick: Stories you’ll want to read
- LGBTQ recognition: The Supreme Court on Wednesday backed an LGBTQ student group seeking recognition at an Orthodox Jewish university in New York, temporarily requiring the school to allow the group to meet on campus while the litigation continues.
- Gen Z in the House?: Former Trump aide Karoline Leavitt won a Republican primary for U.S. House in New Hampshire on Tuesday. She could be one of the first members of Gen Z to serve in Congress if she wins her general election race in November.
- Classification chaos: Former President Donald Trump has said he had a standing order to “automatically declassify” all documents he took home to his Mar-a-Lago estate and made it core to his defense. But whether that’s true – and whether the documents are classified or even declassified – may not matter for his legal defense, experts told USA TODAY.
- Flights from Florida: Local leaders in Martha’s Vineyard say two planes that landed there Thursday appeared to carry Venezuelan nationals sent to Massachusetts by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who claims undocumented immigrants belong in progressive states.
Can Venezuelans recreate the Cuban American voter playbook?
Ahead of the 2020 presidential election, former President Donald Trump was making gains with the Cuban American voters in South Florida. With those votes locked in, he set his sights on another promising group: Venezuelan Americans.
His campaign and other conservatives focused on their growing fears of socialism and political unrest in the United States. This resonated among many Venezuelan Americans, whose South American country has been governed by a socialist government since 1999.
It worked. Trump won 52% of Latino voters in Miami and the Gold Coast, laying the groundwork for Venezuelan Americans to follow in the footsteps of Cuban Americans and become politically influential in Washington.
Some experts are already seeing signs of recreating the Cuban American playbook in politics, which has become a key voting bloc in the presidential elections, USA TODAY White House correspondent Rebecca Morin reports.
“They’re going to become voters very soon in four or five years, and they’re going to be as influential as the Cuban voters,” Joaquín Pérez Rodríguez, a political commentator based in Florida who was a political activist in Cuba and Venezuela, said of Venezuelan American voters in the United States.
Could the midterm elections majorly shake up the House? Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer reportedly said Monday that he thinks his party won’t keep control of the House, and House Speaker Pelosi on Wednesday refused to say whether she would run for Speaker again if Democrats keep control of the chamber. –Ella & Amy