Sep 15, 2022
President Biden delivers remarks on the rail labor agreement Transcript
President Biden comments on the new rail labor pact, outlining the agreement’s promise to increase wages, improve labor conditions, and a cap on healthcare payments for workers. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1: (00:00)
Let’s take a listen.
President Biden: (00:01)
Well, good morning everyone. As you might guess, I am very pleased to announce a tentative labor agreement that had been reached between the railroad workers and the railway companies. This agreement is a big win for America, and for both in my view. I want to thank the lead negotiators from the labor movement, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers Union, and the other labor unions engaged. And this is a win for tens of thousands of rail workers and for their dignity and the dignity of their work. It’s a recognition of that.
President Biden: (00:41)
During these early dark uncertain days of the pandemic they showed up so every American could keep going. They worked tirelessly through the pandemic to ensure that families and communities got the deliveries they needed during these difficult few years. And because of the labor agreement, those rail workers will get better pay, 24% wage increase over the next five years, improved working conditions, peace of mind around their healthcare by capping the cost that workers will have to pay. And it’s about the right to go to a doctor or stay healthy to make sure you’re able to have the care you can afford. It’s all part of this agreement. They earned and deserve these benefits.
President Biden: (01:28)
And this is a great deal for both sides in my view. The agreement is also a victory for railway companies. And I want to thank the lead negotiators from the National Railway Labor Conference and our major rail companies. These companies also played a critical role in keeping America moving during the pandemic, and that’s not hyperbole it’s a fact. With this agreement, railroad companies will be able to retain and recruit workers, they’ll be able to continue to operate effectively as a vital piece of our economy. They’re really the backbone of the economy. I have this visual image of rails being the backbone. I mean literally the backbone of the economy. So, I thank the unions and the rail companies for negotiating good faith. They’ve been up for 20 straight hours through that negotiation and for sticking with it, especially over the last few days.
President Biden: (02:19)
In fact, the negotiators here today I don’t think they’ve been to bed yet, so I don’t want to keep this very long and they’re having a stand [inaudible 00:02:28]. Together you reached an agreement that will keep our critical rail system working and avoid disruptions of our economy. And I’m grateful, grateful for members of administration to work tirelessly on both sides to help get this done. I especially want to thank Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, card carrying union member and the first union labor secretary in decades for his tireless [inaudible 00:02:52].
President Biden: (02:56)
This agreement is validation. Validation, what I’ve always believed, unions and management can work together, can work together for the benefit of everyone. They’re traveling now a number of them up, but I want to thank Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who were deeply involved. Along with, I want to thank Deputy Labor Secretary Julie Su, Director of National Economic Council Brian Deese, and the Deputy National Director of Labor Celeste Drake for this commitment and hard work.
President Biden: (03:30)
To the American people, this agreement can aver a significant damage that any shutdown would’ve brought. Our nation’s rail system is the backbone of our supply chain. Everything you rely on. And it’s hard to realize this from everything from clean water to food to gas, I mean liquified natural gas, to every good that you need seems to end on a rail getting delivered to where it needs to go. With unemployment still on record lows and signs of progress and lowering costs, this agreement allows us to continue to rebuild a better America with an economy that truly works for working people and their families. Today is a win, I mean it sincerely, a win for America. So I want to thank you all for getting this done, both business and labor. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And may God protect our troops. Thank you so much.
Speaker 3: (04:25)