Deal that prevented rail strike still needs worker support

Norfolk Southern locomotives are moved in the Conway Terminal in Conway, Pa., Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)


OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A last-minute deal prevented a railroad strike for now, but many rail workers remain unhappy with working conditions, including some who protested outside their workplaces Wednesday ahead of votes to approve the new contracts.

Handfuls of workers gathered outside railyards across the country in pickets organized by a newly formed workers group separate from the 12 unions that negotiated the deals last week with the major U.S. freight railroads. The protesters expressed dissatisfaction with the deals, just as the unions are trying to explain the potential benefits they negotiated to their roughly 115,000 members ahead of contract votes.

Fears about the dire economic consequences of a rail strike that could cripple all kinds of businesses that rely on railroads to deliver raw materials and finished goods prompted the Biden administration to jump into the middle of the contract talks last week and urge both sides to reach an agreement.