House set to vote on bill to stop rail workers’ strike

washington – Congress is moving quickly to stop America from rising railway workers strikeReluctantly intervening in a labor dispute, which would certainly be a devastating blow to the country’s economy if the transportation of fuel, food and other vital goods were disrupted.

The House was expected to act first on Wednesday after President Biden asked Congress to take steps. bill lawmakers are considering would implement a negotiated labor agreement negotiated by his administration that was ultimately voted by four of the 12 unions representing more than 100,000 workers at major freight rail carriers. The unions have threatened to go on strike if an agreement cannot be reached by the December 9 deadline.

Lawmakers from both parties expressed reservations, but intervention was especially difficult for some Democratic lawmakers, who have traditionally sought to align themselves with politically powerful labor unions.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with Democrats, announced he would object to fast-tracking the president’s proposal unless he could get a roll-call vote on an amendment that would protect railroad workers. Will guarantee seven paid sick days for. Some of the more moderate lawmakers in the House, such as Representatives Jamal Bowman of New York and Cory Bush of Missouri, tweeted that they could not support the measure.

Nevertheless, the bill was expected to receive a significant bipartisan vote. That show of support began when Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate met with mr biden Tuesday at the White House.

Returning to the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “We all agreed that we must try to avoid this rail shutdown as soon as possible.”

A letter from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Democratic colleagues promising a two-way vote reflects the nervousness she’s hearing from members. The first vote will be on adopting a temporary labor agreement. The second agreement will be on measures to add seven days of paid sick leave for railway passengers.

“It is with great reluctance that we must now bypass the standard ratification process for a tentative agreement,” Pelosi wrote. “However, we must act to prevent a devastating strike that will affect the lives of nearly every family: wiping out hundreds of thousands of jobs, including union jobs; keeping food and medicine off the shelves; and forcing small businesses to sell their goods.” stop bringing to market

congress white house meeting
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer address the media after a meeting with President Biden about averting a railroad workers’ strike at the White House on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

settlement agreement Which was supported by the railroads and most unions, provided for a 24% increase in retroactive bonuses and $5,000 through 2020, along with an additional paid vacation day. This will be the biggest increase for railway employees in more than four decades. Workers would pay a greater share of their health insurance costs, but their premiums would be capped at 15% of the total cost of the insurance plan. But the agreement didn’t address workers’ concerns about demanding schedules that make it difficult to take a day off and a lack of paid sick time.

Lawmakers on both sides complained about meddling in the controversy, but they also said they had little choice.

“The bottom line is that we are now forced into this kind of terrible situation where we have to choose between an incomplete deal that is already under negotiation or economic catastrophe,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts.

“This is about whether we shut down America’s railroads, that would have an extremely negative impact on our economy,” said Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House. “We should have a bipartisan vote.”

Republicans needed a Biden administration and Congress was asking Democrats to act now to avert an economic crisis. But several indicated they are prepared to do so.

Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana said, “It has become harder for Democrats to bow down to unions in general.”

Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma said, “At this late time, it is clear that there is little we can do except support the measure.”

Business groups, including the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Farm Bureau Federation, said in a letter to congressional leaders earlier this week that they should be prepared to intervene and halt rail service for any period of time at a cost of up to $100,000 per day. 2 billion would represent a hit. Economy.

On several previous occasions Congress has intervened in labor disputes by enacting legislation to delay or prevent railway and airline strikes.

Tuesday’s Railroad Union Condemnation Mr Biden has called on Congress to intervene in their contract dispute, saying it undermines his efforts to address workers’ quality-of-life concerns.

Conductor Gabe Christensen, who co-chairs the Railroad Workers United coalition, which includes workers from all railroad unions, said Mr. Biden and the Democrats are going with the railroads over the workers.

Christensen said, “The ‘most labor-friendly president in history’ has proved that he and the Democratic Party are not as friends of labor as they have called themselves.”

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