Biden Wants Congress to Stop the Train Strike: The 9th of December is quickly approaching, and both labor unions and business organizations are urging the United States government to help in the ongoing labor conflict. Vice President Joe Biden has urged lawmakers to prevent a train strike before the end of the month, claiming that such a walkout would have a devastating effect on the economy.
Biden Has Asked Congress to End the Train Strike
Vice President Joe Biden has urged lawmakers to prevent a train strike before the end of the month, claiming that such a walkout would have a devastating effect on the economy. Biden’s action follows warnings from business groups that a strike might exacerbate inflation in the United States just in time for the holiday shopping season.
Biden stated in a statement, “Let me be clear: a rail closure would decimate our economy.” “Without freight rail, many US industries would shut down.” Long-term discussions hit a stalemate, and both parties agreed to a cooling-off period that expires next week, prompting the strike. Although Congress has the authority to mandate some contract provisions for the employees, it is unclear what may be included in the event that this was to occur. They might potentially compel the discussions to extend into the new year.
Both the unions and railways have been pressing Congress as contract discussions continue. Four rail unions that represent more than half of the 115,000 workers in the industry have rejected the arrangements that Biden helped organize before the original strike deadline in September and are back at the table trying to hash out new agreements. There are eight additional unions whose five-year contracts with the railways have been ratified, and their members are currently being compensated for the 24% raises that are retroactive to 2020.
The Biden administration put the onus of bargaining squarely on the shoulders of labor unions and train firms last month. While Biden described himself as “a proud pro-labor president,” he expressed reluctance to ignore the opinions of those who voted against the pact. “But in this situation – where the economic impact of a shutdown will damage millions of other working people and families – I believe Congress must utilize its powers to embrace this deal.”
Biden’s remarks came after a coalition of more than 400 business groups sent a letter to congressional leaders on Monday urging them to step into the stalled talks because of fears about the devastating potential impact of a strike that could force many businesses to shut down if they can’t get the rail deliveries they need. Since many commuter railways and Amtrak routes utilize freight railroads’ lines, a strike affecting the freight railroads would also impact these other services.
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The companies warned that a future rail strike would add to the “headwinds affecting the US economy.” A disruption in train service would instantly cause shortages of goods and price increases. Up to 7 million passengers per day would be affected if Amtrak and commuter rail services were to be halted. In the midst of the crucial holiday shopping season, many companies would see revenues drop.
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) industry organization issued a statement of support for Biden on Monday. According to AAR CEO and President Ian Jefferies, “no one gains from a rail work stoppage” (including consumers, rail workers, and the American economy). Eight of the twelve unions have already approved the accords, so Congress should act soon to put them into effect.
The unions have requested that the railways provide their employees with paid sick time in addition to the benefits they now get. Union Pacific, BNSF, Norfolk Southern, CSX, and Kansas City Southern are among the railways that have thus far rejected such a proposal.
The railroads are pushing for a deal that closely follows the recommendations of the special board of arbitrators appointed by Vice President Joe Biden this summer, which included wage increases of 24% and bonuses of $5,000, but did not address the workers’ complaints about the difficulty of taking time off and other working conditions.