Speaking at the White House on Thursday, President Biden praised an agreement reached by leaders of railway companies and unions that averted a potentially crippling strike.
JOE BIDEN: As you might guess, I am very pleased to announce a tentative labor agreement between-- that had been reached between the railway 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 [INAUDIBLE] International Association the Sheet Metal, and Air, and 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. 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 health care by capping the cost that workers will have to pay. And it's about the right to go to a doctor or stay healthy and 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. 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 railway-- 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 a 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 in good faith-- they met up for 20 straight hours for that negotiation-- and for sticking with it, especially over the last few days.