Rail unions are drawing their lines in the sand after President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass legislation that would enforce the tentative rail labor agreement.
Yesterday, House lawmakers voted 290 to 137 on legislation to force adoption of the tentative labor agreement Biden brokered with rail workers, in accordance with a 1926 law that allows Congress to intervene in railroad disputes that threaten to disrupt the U.S. economy. On expanding paid leave for rail workers, lawmakers voted 221-207 to approve the proposal—Democrats in favor and nearly all Republicans opposed.
Both measures now on their way to an evenly divided Senate, where 60 votes are required to advance most legislation. The Senate has yet to schedule a vote, which is expected in the coming days. The leaders of both parties have backed the measure adopting the tentative labor agreement, purposed to end the strike, however, Republican leaders have reservations about the second proposal expanding paid leave.
Smooth and stable rail operations are crucial this holiday season and avoiding a rail strike is imperative to avoid supply chain disruptions, especially for retailers.
The railroad industry forecasts that a strike could inflict economic damage of $2 billion per day, and other industry groups have warned of a direct hit to GDP and inflation increase. According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), 40% of cargo is based on weight, and long-distance freight is moved by rail.
The American Petroleum Institute said that 467,000 trucks and trailers would be required to move the amount of rail-bound freight per day if there was a strike, which would significantly strain the nation’s supply chain.
American businesses and families are already facing increased prices due to persistent inflation, and a rail strike will create greater inflationary pressures and threaten business resiliency. Please support H.J. Res 100 and encourage the Senate to stop any potential rail strike and the resultant catastrophic shutdown of the freight rail system.