Biden Calls on Congress to Block Potential Rail Strike

Biden Calls on Congress to Block Potential Rail Strike

After President Joe Biden warned of severe economic repercussions and significant job losses, the U.S. House of Representatives was prepared to vote on Wednesday to prevent a rail strike that might occur as early as December 9.

The House will vote on Wednesday, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to enforce a tentative contract agreement reached in September on 12 unions representing 115,000 workers. The proposal to grant railroad workers seven days of paid sick leave will be put to a separate vote in the House on Wednesday, according to Pelosi.

She stated Tuesday after meeting with Biden, “I don’t like opposing the right of unions to strike, but balancing the equities, we must avoid a strike. Up to 765,000 Americans may lose their jobs in the first two weeks of a strike, according to Biden’s warning on Monday, which predicted a devastating economic impact if railroad service was disrupted.

“I believe Congress needs to take action to stop it. Although it’s not an easy decision, we must make it. “The economy is in danger,” stated Biden. Despite the strong bonds that exist between unions and the Democratic Party, numerous labor leaders condemned Biden for requesting that Congress impose a contract that four out of the twelve unions’ members had rejected because it did not include paid sick time.

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One of the four unions that voted against the deal, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes, objected to Biden’s request for Congress to step in, stating that “the railroad is not a place to work while you’re sick.” It is risky, inappropriate, and unjust to require someone to perform important work while they are ill.

After unions demanded 15 sick days and railways agreed to one personal day, the tentative agreement does not include any paid sick days. Senator Bernie Sanders threatened to delay the railroad bill unless he had a vote on the paid sick time issue, which helped the unions win support on Capitol Hill.

According to Sanders, providing 7 paid sick days to railroad employees would cost the sector $321 million annually, or less than 2% of its earnings. Please do not say that the rail business cannot afford it. This year, the rail industry paid out $25.5 billion in dividends and stock buybacks.

Railroads have been charged with employee reductions to increase profits by regulators and shippers. Given that they would need to hire more staff, the railroads are opposed to allowing paid sick leave for their employees. The carriers involved include Union Pacific Corp (UNP.N), BNSF, CSX Corp (CSX.O), Norfolk Southern Corp (NSC.N), and Kansas City Southern, all of which are owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N).

For the legislation to pass the House, a simple majority is required. To pass the Senate, the measure would need a supermajority of 60 votes out of 100. Democratic representative Jamaal Bowman tweeted, “I can’t in good faith vote for a plan that doesn’t offer train workers the paid leave they deserve.”

On Monday, Biden praised the proposed deal for offering five annual $1,000 lump-sum payments and a 24% wage boost spread over five years. Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the House Republicans, also expressed his disapproval of the initiative but said, “I think it will pass, but, sadly, this is how we’re operating our economy today.”

A halt in rail traffic could block approximately 30% of the weight of freight shipped out of the United States, fuel already rising inflation, and cost the US economy up to $2 billion daily. A rail closure would be “simply absolutely devastating,” according to Brian Dodge, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) after businesses spent the previous 18 months working to clear up supply chain congestion.

The next time, it would take just as long to disentangle everything because we would be going down the same route. In recent decades, the US Congress has established numerous regulations to restrict or postpone strikes on railroads and airlines.