Freight rail companies, and the unions representing their workers, have reached a tentative agreement to avert the country’s first rail strike in 30 years. But the concern generated by the possibility of the disruption highlights how fragile the United States’ supply chain remains after it was thrown into disarray by the global pandemic. The deal follows months of negotiations and 20 hours of overnight discussions on working conditions.

The breakthrough was announced by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, who hosted talks between unions and the country’s largest railroads. As part of the new contract, employees will get double-digit raises, more flexible attendance policies, and other benefits, NPR reports. President Joe Biden hailed the outcome as a win for rail workers who worked through the pandemic to ensure that America’s supply chain continued to deliver the items that kept families and communities going during those difficult years.

Speaking about the crisis, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the country’s supply chain is only as strong as its most congested link. “We’ve seen that throughout the pandemic period and the recovery from the worst days of it,” he told NPR.”

Lisa Anderson, a supply chain expert and President of California-based LMA Consulting Group comments that she just doesn’t see anything in the next year or two that’s going to decrease the number of disruptions with supply chain issues remaining a persistent problem.

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