Dec 1, 2022
House Votes to Prevent Rail Strike as Strike Nears
On Tuesday, November 30, 2022, the House of Representatives voted to pass H.J. Res. 100, which codifies a labor agreement between the Biden Administration and railroad labor unions. The resolution provides a 24 percent salary increase by 2024, an annual bonus of $1,000 for five years, and a cap on healthcare premiums. Union leaders, including four of the 12 major union groups, have rejected the Biden-backed agreement. Freight railroad industry leaders estimate that a rail shutdown would cost the US economy $2B per day. The House also passed a separate resolution, H. Con. Res. 119, which gives seven days of paid sick leave to railroad workers. Union leaders had previously asked for 15 days of paid sick leave, while railroad companies had offered one day of paid sick leave.
H.J. Res. 100 and H. Con. Res. 119 both now head to the Senate where support for both bills is in flux. It is expected that most Republicans will oppose H. Con. Res. 119, which adds additional sick days to the labor deal. Also, several Democrats and Republicans have said they plan to reject the H.J. Res. 100. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) voiced his opposition in a tweet - “The railways & workers should go back & negotiate a deal that the workers, not just the union bosses, will accept but if Congress is forced to do it, I will not vote to impose a deal that doesn’t have the support of the rail workers.” Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) emphasized the agreement does not go far enough - “I would like to see management come to the table and treat their workers with respect.” Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) has told reporters that “while many Republicans would prefer Congress not intervene in the matter, a significant number of Republicans would likely vote for the measure if it came to the Senate floor.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell both support the passage of a bill that would end the strike and impose a tentative agreement. “Leader McConnell and I both want it to pass quickly,” said Schumer. “We understand the common deadlines, and we’ll be working together to figure out the best way to get it done quickly.”
Congress has until December 9 to reach an agreement, when rail workers plan to strike. It is yet clear if there are enough votes in the Senate for passage of H.J. Res. 100. We will provide updates as H.J Res. 100 and H. Con. Res. 119 is debated in the Senate.