Amtrak struck a deal with nine of its labor unions today, heading off a potentially catastrophic strike that was scheduled to begin at the end of the month, the AP reports. Union members still must ratify the specifics, but sources say the deal grants the unions full payment of back wages while giving Amtrak none of its desired concessions on work rules.
Hundreds of thousands of travelers and commuters would have been affected if the first strike in the railroad's 36-year history had materialized. The deal executes the recommendations of a presidential emergency board, which authorized a legal strike if no agreement had been reached. The back wages are said to average nearly $13,000 per employee, and the deal stipulates a pay raise of 3.1% a year until 2009.