President Joe Biden took a victory lap in a Rose Garden address in mid-September after reaching a tentative labor agreement with heads of the nation’s railway unions. However, as Right Wing reported in October, Biden’s self-congratulations proved to be premature when the members of several of the labor groups rejected ratification of the measure. The president recently called on Congress to act to avert a possible nationwide railway strike as the country heads into the holiday season.
On November 28, the White House released a statement from Biden calling on Congress to pass a bill to formally adopt the agreement his administration helped broker between railroad workers and operators in September. The president warned that a railway shutdown “would devastate” the nation’s economy, forcing several leading US industries to shut down.
The September agreement with union leaders provided a 24% wage increase for workers, improved healthcare benefits and offered provision for unscheduled leave to address medical needs.
Eight rail unions approved the five-year deal, but members of four others rejected it, citing concerns regarding unpaid sick leave, the railways’ demanding schedules, and other working conditions.
Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) vowed to push the original agreement without any modifications. However, it remains unclear whether she has the votes to pass the measure on to the Senate and its 50/50 split membership, although Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) said he supported a legislative remedy.