Federal officials on Thursday morning announced a tentative labor agreement between freight rail companies and their employee unions to avert a work stoppage that would have significantly impacted Altamont Corridor Express commute train routes through the Tri-Valley -- in addition to potentially drastic economic effects nationwide.
ACE, which operates morning and afternoon commuter trains on Union Pacific Railroad tracks between Stockton and San Jose including stops in Livermore and Pleasanton, was bracing for service disruptions as the threat of a national work stoppage loomed. ACE announced Wednesday it would be canceling half of its trains on Thursday (Sept. 15) and could face a full shutdown starting Friday if no labor deal were reached.
With the tentative agreement in place, the only day with ACE service interruptions is Thursday (Sept. 15) with the already scheduled suspensions of the ACE 05, 07, 08 and 10 routes due to the negotiation uncertainty headed into the day, according to the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, which operates ACE.
ACE will be in full service on Friday, officials said.
"Our agency is extremely pleased to hear the news that a tentative agreement has been reached between freight railroad carriers and all of their respective employee unions," SJRRC Executive Director Stacey Mortensen said in a statement Thursday.
"As we promised to restore service as quickly as possible, we will be restoring ACE to full-service tomorrow which will be welcome news to our loyal passengers," Mortensen added. "We greatly appreciate the patience and flexibility of our passengers and partners. We stay committed to keeping you informed as the national collective bargaining process moves forward."
The nationwide labor negotiations did not directly involve ACE personnel or contractors, but the impasse was poised to impact the ACE system because it operates on Union Pacific rails.
U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh announced around 5 a.m. Thursday (Eastern) that a tentative deal had been reached between the rail companies and unions, which would avert a nationwide strike threatening rail lines across the country.
According to the Associated Press, the five-year deal -- which is retroactive to 2020 -- includes 24% raises and $5,000 bonuses as well as allowing railroad workers to take unpaid days off for medical appointments without being penalized under the companies' strict attendance policies, among other provisions.