Biden signs bill preventing crippling strike by forcing rail unions to accept deal

President Biden on Friday signed bipartisan legislation to prevent a railroad worker’s strike and congratulated Congress for working with his team to avoid “an event that could be a real disaster”.

Lawmakers and industry representatives had warned ahead of the holiday that the threat of strikes by transportation unions could have disastrous consequences for the US economy. The newly enacted law codifies a July deal negotiated by rail unions and Biden management Over a five-year period from 2020 to 2024, it will increase workers’ wages by 24%, including an average instant payment of $11,000 once approved.

The agreement, adopted by Congress, was ratified by eight of the 12 transportation unions participating in the negotiations. Four opposition unions, representing about 100,000 railroad workers, said the deal was unfair as it included insufficient paid sick leave periods. They had requested seven paid sick leave, but progressive lawmakers and even Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo. and Senator Marco Rubio, despite the efforts of some conservatives such as R-Fla, Congress did not include their demands in the bill. ., to change the legislation.

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President Biden speaks after signing bipartisan legislation preventing a railroad workers strike on December 2, 2022, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images / Getty Images)

railway strike

In aerial view, freight cars stand in a rail yard near shipping containers in Wilmington, California, on November 22, 2022. (Mario Tama/Getty Images / Getty Images)

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The president praised railroad workers’ wage increases as “historic” and promised to continue the fight for paid sick leave benefits for workers.

Before signing the bill, Biden said, “Look, I know this bill is not paid sick leave, that these railroad workers and frankly every worker in America deserve it. But this struggle is not over.”

He also thanked Republicans and Democrats for coming together in a “hard vote” that kept supply chains running in the weeks before Christmas.

Kaiser Permanente strike

Unionized Kaiser Permanente workers vote on whether to join KP workers in California and approve a strike at Kaiser Skyline Medical Center in Denver on August 27, 2019. (RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post/Getty Images)

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“It was the right thing to do right now to save jobs, protect millions of working families from harm and disruption, and keep supply chains stable during the holidays,” Biden said.

A rail worker strike could strand millions of Amtrak and commuter rail passengers, freeze up to 30% of U.S. cargo shipments, and cost US$2 billion a day, reports say.

Caitlin McFall of FOX Business contributed to this story.

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