Many rank-and-file railroad workers have fought for better sick leave policies than those enshrined in the deal, and Biden’s action represents a significant split with part of his workforce.
In a statement, Biden called himself a “proud pro-Labour president” and said he was reluctant to recommend congressional intervention, but the economic consequences of inaction were too great. He also included a pointed message to fellow Democrats in Congress who might be inclined to side with elements of Labor who don’t want to accept the deal.
“Some members of Congress want to change the deal to make it better for either workers or management. No matter how well-meaning, any change would risk delaying and causing a debilitating shutdown. The deal was made in good faith by both parties,” he said.
Nodding to the looming holiday season, Biden said, “We cannot let our firm belief in better outcomes for working people rob working people of the benefits of the deal they made and rush this nation into a devastating closure of rail freight”.
Shortly after Biden’s statement, the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi posted one of his own, endorsing the decision and promising to introduce a bill in the House this week. Given that key GOP lawmakers have endorsed this approach, it’s likely that any legislation would have enough support to defeat Democratic objectors.
The House will pass legislation to impose the contract “without poison pills or changes to negotiated terms — and send it to the Senate.” I hope this legislation needed to avert the strike gets a strong bipartisan vote,” Pelosi said.
Senate Majority Leader chuck schumerThe office could not immediately be reached for comment.
Earlier on Monday, two associations representing petrol station owners warned on Monday that a freight rail closure, which could occur as early as December 9, could jeopardize their ability to keep fuel in stock across the country.
“If a work stoppage were to occur, it would immediately disrupt the ability of fuel distributors to provide a reliable and stable supply of fuel to American consumers and to commercial fleets nationwide,” said Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman, spokeswoman. from NATSO, which represents plaza and truck stop owner travel.
During a Monday press briefing, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre neither confirmed nor denied reports from the Washington Post that President Joe Biden will ask Congress to intervene to prevent railway workers to strike or railways to lock out workers.
She said she had nothing to report on this but that the administration was in “regular communication with Congress” and that “once the president makes a decision on this, if he makes a decision at this subject, you will hear it”. .”
She noted that Biden was “directly involved in the process and was engaged with his team” and Congress “in the event that solving the issue fell to them, as it has 18 times over the past 60 years.” .
Upcoming disruptions: NATSO, in conjunction with SIGMA, a trade group for fuel distributors, has warned that the availability of ethanol and diesel exhaust fluid could be disrupted if a strike or lockout closes the country’s railways. .
All diesel machines built with more than 74 horsepower must have a system to reduce pollution, and this system uses diesel exhaust fluid, which is made up of water and urea. Sixty to 70% of ethanol transport is done by rail. It cannot be transported through pipelines due to its alcohol content.
“The U.S. economy in many ways revolves around transportation fuel, and if the components needed for that fuel can’t get to where they’re needed, the market impact will be drastic,” Neuman said in a statement. . “A prolonged railroad shutdown will limit the nation’s fuel supply by disrupting the availability of ethanol, which is often a critical component of gasoline, and diesel exhaust fluid, which most heavy-duty trucks need to function.”
And after: The railways and the four unions that rejected the latest contract offers have until December 9 to negotiate a new deal. If an agreement unreachable in the next few days, railroads are likely to preemptively halt the shipment of sensitive materials like ethanol and urea so they are not blocked once the shutdown occurs.
Alex Daugherty contributed to this report.
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