WASHINGTON—The Senate voted to intervene to prevent a nationwide strike by railroad workers, but rejected a proposal to expand paid sick leave.
In an 80-15 vote, attended by one senator, lawmakers agreed to force unions to adopt early government-brokered labor agreements. The bill is now on its way to the White House, and Biden said he will sign it as soon as it reaches his desk.
The move is expected to end the conflict between Union Pacific Ltd.
and other freight railways and over 115,000 workers. Under the Railroad Labor Act, Congress can force both sides to accept an agreement to prevent damage to the U.S. economy.
Biden and other Republicans and Democrats said they didn’t like getting into controversy, but they couldn’t risk a strike.
“Many in Congress shared my reluctance to nullify the union’s ratification process,” he said after the Senate vote. It was too big.”
Senator James Lankford (Republic, Oklahoma) tweeted:
Earlier in the week, Mr. Biden called for urgent action by Congress, warning that a labor deal must be struck well before Dec. 9, when the cooling-off period ends and the strike could begin.
Freight railroads and trade unions representing engineers, conductors, machinists and other workers have been in labor negotiations for more than two years. The White House appointed a mediation committee this summer. Eight unions ratified the proposed contracts resulting from these negotiations, but four unions did not. The main issues were around work schedules and paid sick leave.
The five-year contract, which replaces the one covering the period 2015-2019, will raise wages for rail workers by 24% from 2020-2024. This will give you an additional day of paid time off on top of your existing vacation and paid time off. off. Workers are working under the terms of their old contracts and their wages are back.
Business leaders from energy companies to fertilizer producers have sounded the alarm about possible rail strikes, saying work stoppages or lockouts on railroads will put hundreds of thousands out of work, exacerbating supply chain problems and inflationary pressures. I warned you that it might .
“Avoiding a strike is a win for our nation,” said Suzanne P. Clarke, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “It’s critical that the U.S. government helps re-stabilize U.S. supply chains,” said Steve Lamar, president and chief executive officer of the American Apparel and Footwear Association.
Unions have criticized Biden for calling for congressional intervention, which weakened their bargaining position and forced some workers to accept labor contracts that some refused. said it would be.
They stressed that the struggle for paid sick leave will never go away, and said job cuts in recent years have made the issue more pressing.
“The railroad is not a place to work when you are sick,” said the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in an earlier statement. “It’s dangerous. It requires complete concentration, situational awareness and decision-making.” Members of BMWED voted to reject the tentative agreement.
Trade groups representing the railroad said the move would bring certainty, and saw the forced agreement as a compromise with real benefits for workers.
Ian Jeffries, president and chief executive officer of the American Railroad Association, said: life balance issues. “
According to the association, the strike would have cost the U.S. economy about $2 billion a day.
Intervention by Congress is rare in recent decades. The final rail strike in 1991 lasted about 24 hours before Congress passed and President George HW Bush signed a bill ordering workers to go back to work.
The Senate action came after members of the House passed two bills on Wednesday.
A vote for additional paid sick leave, despite the support of nearly all Democrats and half a dozen Republicans, was defeated in a tally that disrupted party and ideological lines. The vote was 52 in favor and 43 against, short of the 60 votes needed to pass.
The six Republicans who joined the Democrats and voted in favor of expanding profits are Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Rep. Josh Hawley of Missouri, Rep. Mike Brown of Indiana, and Lindsay Lindsey of South Carolina. Rep. Graham, Rep. Marco Rubio of Florida, and Rep. John Kennedy of Louisiana. All are past or potential candidates for president or governor. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who ran for president in 2016, cast an attendance vote.
Other Republicans said they would not support the extra leave. “We can’t support an agreement that goes beyond what all parties have negotiated,” he said. And what the union leaders agreed. “
Senator Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) voted against the sick leave clause and said he did not believe Congress should change the terms of the agreement.
Senators rejected a proposal from Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska). Senator Dan Sullivan said he requested a 60-day extension beyond the Dec. 9 deadline, urging both sides to continue negotiations. He said the law gives Congress the power to order such extensions, and lawmakers have used the tool before. I refused.
The 15 senators who voted against imposing a labor agreement to end the strike include Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) Cruz and Hawley. to conservatives. They cited a variety of reasons, including a lack of paid vacation provisions and a preference for the 60-day extension Sullivan prefers.
“Railway workers deserve better. That’s why I voted against. .”
—Lindsay Wise and Catherine Lucey contributed to this article.
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