Biden champions rail deal as 'big win for America'

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President Biden called the tentative deal struck Thursday by his administration that averted a rail strike a "big win for America."

The agreement was announced early Thursday morning after 20 hours of intensive negotiating between the White House and freight rail companies and unions representing thousands of rail workers. 

Rail workers will get a 24% increase in wages over the next five years, “improved working conditions” and health care guarantees. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File / AP Newsroom)

RAIL STRIKE AVERTED, TENTATIVE AGREEMENT REACHED

A rail shutdown could have had a substantial effect on shipping food, fuel and basic commodities across the U.S.

"This is a win for tens of thousands of rail workers, and for their dignity and the dignity of their work," said Biden, speaking from the White House. "It's a recognition that during the early, dark, uncertain days of the pandemic, they showed up so every American could keep going."

“This is a win for tens of thousands of rail workers, and for their dignity and the dignity of their work,” President Biden said Thursday (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Rail workers will get a 24% increase in wages over the next five years, "improved working conditions" and health care guarantees.

"They're really the backbone of the economy," Biden said. 

AUTO, ENERGY AND AGRICULTURE AMONG INDUSTRIES THAT WILL SUFFER MOST FROM A RAIL STRIKE

The president said the negotiations showed that "unions and management can work together for the benefit of everyone," and added that he was "optimistic" these kinds of negotiations could be done in other fields as well. 

The talks, which began Wednesday, were hosted by Biden’s labor secretary, Martin Walsh, whom the president thanked, along with the rail workers' representatives. 

Biden said he thought the agreement was a "win" for both sides.

A rail shutdown could have had a substantial effect on shipping food, fuel and basic commodities across the U.S. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink / AP Newsroom)

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The merits of the deal will ultimately be decided by union members, who will choose whether to ratify the agreement.

Rail workers have agreed not to strike while the agreement is being reviewed and voted on.

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