On Nov. 30, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of legislation to end a labor standoff that threatened a stoppage of rail service and a labor strike that would have a significant impact on the U.S. economy and lead to further inflationary pressure. Lawmakers voted 290-137 on H.J. Res. 100 to use their authority in the Railway Labor Act to force the adoption of the National Tentative Agreement reached in September. The House also approved H. Con. Res. 119 by a vote of 221-207, which would provide seven days of paid sick leave for the rail workers covered in the agreement.
The two separate resolutions now go to the U.S. Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said the Senate will work to pass as soon as possible. However, both measures will receive separate votes and will need 60 votes to pass. Further complicating the Senate vote, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt has stated that “it’s my intention to block consideration of the rail legislation until a rollcall vote occurs on guaranteeing seven paid sick days to rail workers in America." Although H.J. Res. 100 is expected to pass, it is unclear whether H. Con. Res. 119, providing paid sick leave, will have the 60 votes needed to go to the president’s desk.
The votes come just one day after President Joe Biden called on Congress to intervene to block the strike before the Dec. 9 deadline, saying the strike would “devastate our economy.” It also comes one week after the largest U.S. rail union, the transportation division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers, voted down the agreement reached in September. The Association of American Railroads estimated a shutdown would idle more than 7,000 trains daily and cost the economy more than $2 billion a day. ABC joined with more than 400 organizations in a letter calling on Congress to intervene in the labor standoff.
Before the national tentative agreement was reached in September, ABC released a statement urging Congress to take immediate action to bring about a resolution to this extremely dangerous threat to our economy. On Oct. 28, ABC joined with 322 organizations in signing a letter to the White House and key administration officials urging them to continue to work with the railroad unions and railroads to ensure that the tentative agreement is ratified by the parties.