President Joe Biden signed an executive order in July creating a Presidential Emergency Board to help resolve an ongoing dispute between major rail carriers and unions. Then, on September 15, the president praised Labor Secretary Marty Walsh’s role in helping reach a tentative labor agreement between workers and railway companies during a Rose Garden media address. However, recent developments indicate Biden’s victory lap came too soon.
On October 10, the Teamsters Union’s Brotherhood of Maintenance of Ways Employees Division (BMWED) issued a press release announcing that its membership voted to reject ratification of the White House-brokered agreement. BMWED members overwhelmingly rejected the tentative measure by a margin of 6,646 to 5,100.
The move by BMWED members sends both sides back to the negotiating table, reigniting fears of a possible nationwide strike. With a membership of about 12,000 people, the labor group represents about one-third of the nation’s unionized railway workers. This is enough to spark concerns that a potential strike could decimate the country’s already struggling economy.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) posted a statement on his Twitter account warning Americans to “get ready for prices to go even higher” if a strike occurs.