November 22, 2022 |

Coming around the bend may not be a train, but a nationwide railroad strike. The chances of a crippling freight strike deepened Monday with a split decision among affected worker unions over a White House-backed labor agreement.

Train and engine service members with SMART-TD rejected the terms of the new contract in weekend voting, sending the deal back to the negotiation table.

President Joe Biden in September celebrated a tentative deal that gave union members an average 24% pay increase spread over five years, improved working conditions and capped out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. The deal did not include paid sick leave, a big sticking point.

A strike date originally set for Nov. 19, was extended to Dec. 9. While around half of the unions involved in negotiations have signed off on the labor deal, a strike by any of the 12 freight rail unions would prevent others from crossing the picket line and usher in a nation-wide strike that could have an estimated $2 billion-per-day impact on the U.S. economy.

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