(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden said the tentative deal he helped strike between railroads and labor prevented the destruction of the American economy when it was already struggling with high inflation and supply chain constraints.
“In fact, if they went on strike, the supply chains in this country would have come to a complete halt. We would have seen a real economic crisis,” he said in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” scheduled to air on Sunday.
Biden described the agreement as “fair to both sides.” His comments indicate that he is confident that the disapproving unions will endorse the deal, which was formed just hours before the strike that would have halted rail traffic across the country.
Union members still have to vote to accept the deal and there is no guarantee that they will. The White House said the tentative agreement extends the “cooling off” period – in which unions may not strike – to ensure that the refusal does not lead to an immediate stoppage.
Late on Wednesday, Biden personally intervened in the talks, emphasizing the widespread economic damage that a strike would cause.
Union advocates and officials familiar with the president’s invitation to negotiators said Biden’s involvement was pivotal in getting the two sides to agree, with one saying it was unclear how negotiations would go by the time Biden called.
The shutdown could have disrupted supply chains and stoked hyperinflation, while putting Democrats at greater risk of losing control of Congress in mid-November. Instead, the president hammers out a deal that could prove to be a validation of his negotiating skills.
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