Parliament votes to impose deal to thwart rail strike

Parliament voted Wednesday to block a strike by railroad workers in the country by intervening in a labor dispute with far-reaching economic and political consequences.

The House voted 137 to 290 to accept the interim agreement reached in September, mediated by the White House, between the railroad companies and their employees.

In a second, separate vote aimed at addressing progressive Democrats’ concerns about protecting workers, it was decided to add seven days of paid sick leave to the deal, with only one day off at the moment.

Unless a deal is imposed by Congress by Dec. 9, much of the country’s economy based on freight transport will be disrupted — by some estimates as much as $2 billion a day.

Activists supporting unionized railroad workers protest in front of the US Capitol in Washington, November 29, 2022.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

“To this end, the House will consider urgent and necessary legislation: adopting the Interim Agreement, which was reached after months of difficult negotiations,” Pelosi wrote in a note to her colleagues on Tuesday.

“After hearing from our members, we agree that more needs to be done to prevent a nationwide rail strike and to secure the paid sick leave that hardworking railroaders deserve.”

D-Wash Representative Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said any House legislation that would enact the current interim agreement would be accompanied by legislation addressing workers’ long-standing demand for fair pay leave.

Pelosi’s members of the House’s Congressional Progressive Group Group are Peter DeFazio, Head of Transportation and Infrastructure, D-Ore and House Leadership, Jayapal said.

“The Progressive Group Group will continue to fight to ensure that all workers receive guaranteed sick leave and workers’ rights are protected. I thank Speaker Pelosi and the Leadership for their cooperation, and my colleagues in the Progressive Party Group for their tireless advocacy and commitment to workers’ rights,” Jayapal said in a statement. .

The two-vote series also allows the Senate to act separately on the two bills. Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, is urging his colleagues in the Senate to consider increasing paid leave provisions.

The House vote came on Monday after President Joe Biden asked Congress to intervene and prevent a potential strike, but warned against making any changes to the negotiated deal.

Biden and Pelosi, a president who claims to be pro-union, said they were hesitant to step into the dispute.

“I am reluctant to override ratification procedures and the views of those who voted against the deal,” Biden said on Monday. But in this case – where the economic impact of a shutdown would hurt millions of other working people and families – I believe Congress should use its powers to pass this deal.”

Pelosi reiterated Biden’s call to prioritize preventing the far-reaching economic consequences of a strike.

“We are now compelled to bypass the standard approval process for the Interim Agreement with great reluctance. But we must act to prevent a devastating strike that will affect the lives of nearly every family: the wipeout of hundreds of thousands of jobs, including union jobs, keeping food and drugs off the shelves, and the property of small businesses. prevent it from being put on the market,” he said.

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