Biden seeks to avert economically damaging US train strike

SEPTEMBER 12: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum on his Cancer Moonshot Initiative on September 12, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Scott Eisen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Washington, United States -- President Joe Biden on Monday sought to mediate in a labor dispute threatening to paralyze the US train network with strikes likely to hurt the wider US economy, the White House said.

"The president and members of the cabinet have been in touch today with both unions and companies involved in order to try to avert a strike," an administration official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

September 16 is the deadline for US unions and freight railroad companies to reach a collective bargaining agreement. Out of the 12 unions representing different workers, two have yet to make a deal and their workers could go on strike.

The Association of American Railroads warned of steep economic fallout.

There would also be a political hit for Democrats ahead of difficult November midterms in which voters are already worried about inflation in the post-pandemic economy, where supply chain issues have been a constant scourge.

The Labor Department said in a statement that "the parties continue to negotiate."

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh "engaged to push the parties to reach a resolution that averts any shutdown of our rail system. This followed on dozens of calls from the president's cabinet and top administration officials," the statement said.

"The fact that we are already seeing some impacts of contingency planning by railways again demonstrates that a shutdown of our freight rail system is an unacceptable outcome for our economy and the American people, and all parties must work to avoid that."

© Agence France-Presse

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