Threat of rail strike recedes as US Congress intervenes

A cargo train in the U.S.

The U.S. Senate joined the U.S. House in voting to intervene to prevent a nationwide strike by railroad workers.

The Senate bill, which passed 80-15, was signed into law by U.S. President Joe Biden on 2 December. Food industry and retail groups had urged Congress to pass the resolution to avert the strike, which was estimated to potentially cost the American economy up to USD 2 billion (EUR 1.9 billion) a day.

FMI - The Food Industry Association and the National Retail Federation praised the passage of the legislation.

“A rail shutdown would have been devastating for the food industry and consumers alike, particularly over the busiest shopping season of the year,” FMI Chief Public Policy Officer Jennifer Hatcher said in a press release.  “We are pleased that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the Senate and House recognized the importance of keeping goods flowing and prioritized passage of this vital legislation ahead of the weekend. We look forward to President Biden signing this legislation into law so that essential industries like food retailers and manufacturers can continue doing what they do best – serving their customers with safe, nutritious foods.”

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said U.S. freight and commuter rail systems are essential to America’s retail economy.

“A nationwide rail strike at this juncture would have had devastating consequences for our economy, and exacerbated inflation for American families,” Shay said.

In late November, four major railroad labor unions rejected a tentative agreement with freight railroad companies brokered by the Biden administration over the summer. Even though eight of the 12 major railroad worker unions ratified the agreement, several have pledged solidarity with those that have not.

The new legislation orders all labor unions to sign the agreement.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


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