DENVER — Early Thursday morning, President Joe Biden announced that rail companies and their workers have reached a tentative agreement in order to avert a nationwide strike.
Amtrak's routes in Colorado, the California Zephyr and the Southwest Chief, would have quickly been affected by such a strike since much of the track is owned by BNSF Railway or Union Pacific. Amtrak and the Amtrak workforce are not involved in the contract negotiations.
> Video above: President Biden applauds tentative railway labor deal
Both the California Zephyr and Southwest Chief were among Amtrak's initial long-distance route cancellations Monday. The company said the cancellations were necessary to avoid possible passenger interruptions while en route.
In a statement Thursday, Amtrak said they would be working as quickly as possible to restore those canceled trains and that they would be reaching out to accommodate those who were impacted to put them on the next available departure.
The company announced that as of Friday 9 a.m., all service has been fully restored and that trains would depart their origins. They did note that passengers at some intermediate stations may still be impacted, but did urge passengers to check their train's status on the Amtrak website or app.
Regional Transportation District (RTD) trains would not have been impacted if unionized freight railroad workers voted to strike, since they run on separate tracks owned by RTD.
Among the key concessions won by rail workers is that they will receive 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses in a deal that is retroactive to 2020. That means they will receive back pay of more than $11,000 on average once the deal is ratified.
Among other things, the deal also includes one additional paid leave day a year and the ability to take unpaid time off without being penalized. Employers will also have to pay a larger share of employees' health insurance costs (premiums will be capped at 15%).
Now, all 115,000 members across 12 railroad unions will need to vote on the deals. As of now, nine unions have agreed to tentative deals, while three others are still in the process of negotiating.
According to Amtrak, ridership numbers in fiscal year 2021 reached 114,629 across all rail stations in Colorado.
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