Biden calls on Congress to immediately pass legislation to prevent a railroad strike: Amtrak Joe says closing due to a historic 24% wage increase would ‘devastate’ the economy, putting up to 765,000 Americans out of work
- Biden and union leaders have asked Congress to act before the December 9 deadline — lawmakers have the power to impose contract terms on workers
- As Biden noted, a railroad strike could “devastate our economy” and could put up to 765,000 people out of work.
- A tentative deal in September offered a 24 percent wage increase for railroad workers, health care and sick leave
- Eight railway unions have ratified their deals, but four railway unions are back at the negotiating table after rejecting their deals with the railways
President Biden demanded on Monday that Congress take action to avert a looming railroad strike that could cause major disruptions to the country’s supply chain during the height of the holiday shopping season.
With lawmakers returning to Capitol Hill for a short three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Biden demanded they approve the preliminary agreement between railroad workers and operators that was negotiated in September.
As Biden noted, a railroad strike could “devastate our economy” and could put up to 765,000 people out of work. The president noted that it could even affect drinking water supplies and livestock and agriculture. Businesses across the country could be forced to shut down without access to the supplies they need, and the U.S. economy could lose $2 billion a day.
Commuter Railroads and Amtrak would also be affected, as they often use tracks owned by freight railroads.
The tentative September deal offered a 24 percent wage increase for railroad workers, health care and sick leave. Eight railroad unions have ratified their deals, but four railroad unions are back at the negotiating table after rejecting their deals with the railroads.
BIden called on Congress to “set aside political and partisan divisions and deliver for the American people.” Congress should get this bill to my desk well before December 9 so we can avoid disruption.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi immediately responded by saying the House would pass a bill this week to avert the potential strike.
“We must recognize that the railroads have sold themselves to Wall Street to increase their profits, make obscene profits and demand more and more of railroad workers,” she said in a statement.
“We are reluctant to bypass the standard ratification process for the preliminary agreement, but we must act to prevent a catastrophic nationwide rail strike.”
Pelosi said the House would pass a bill to pass the preliminary agreement without “poison pills or changes to the negotiated terms.”
President Biden demanded on Monday that Congress take action to avert a looming railroad strike that could cause major disruptions to the country’s supply chain during the height of the holiday shopping season
Biden and union leaders have asked Congress to act before the December 9 deadline — lawmakers have the power to impose contract terms on workers
Now Biden and labor leaders have asked Congress to intervene before the December 9 deadline — lawmakers have the power to impose contract terms on the workers who turned it down. They can also postpone the strike deadline to extend the negotiation period or require the two sides to work through an arbitrator.
“As a proud pro-labor president, I am reluctant to override the ratification processes and the positions of those who voted against the agreement,” Biden said. “But in this case — where the economic impact of a shutdown would hurt millions of other working people and families — I think Congress should use its powers to pass this deal.”
Just hours earlier, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre urged the two sides to reach an agreement without congressional interference.
“The best option that we believe, that the president believes, is still for the parties to sort this out on their own,” she said.
A staunch union supporter, Biden has historically argued against congressional intervention in rail labor disputes, claiming that it interferes with union bargaining efforts.
Biden’s call to action echoed that of a coalition of 400 business groups sending a letter to congressional leaders.
Led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Retail Federation, the groups said even a short-term strike would lead to sharp economic pain as railroads would stop carrying dangerous chemicals up to a week in advance. , fertilizer and perishable goods. prevent those products from stranding somewhere along the track.
“A potential railroad strike only adds to the headwinds facing the U.S. economy,” the companies wrote. ‘A rail stop would immediately lead to supply shortages and higher prices. The shutdown of Amtrak and commuter rail services would disrupt up to 7 million travelers a day. Many companies would see their sales disrupted in the middle of the critical Christmas shopping season.”