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Biden signs legislation preventing rail strike, lockout

By Admin

Reported by Sarah Zimmerman for SupplyChainDive.

President Joe Biden on Friday signed legislation imposing a labor agreement on rail workers, avoiding a national strike or lockout that was expected to cost the economy $2 billion a day.

“A rail shutdown would have devastated our economy,” the president said at a bill signing event. “Without freight rail, many of the U.S. industries would literally shut down.”

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Congress and Biden override rail worker collective bargaining rights

By Admin

Reported by Mark Gruenberg and John Wojcik for People’s World.

Giving in to pressure from Democratic President Joe Biden and corporate rail bosses, the Senate overwhelmingly imposed a four-year contract on 115,000 unionized freight railroad workers—without the seven paid sick days they sought. The contract, which a Biden board crafted, came in legislation the president signed this morning.

Biden, in a speech this morning at his signing of the bill, tried to deflect from anger expressed by workers and their unions by emphasizing that the workers are getting a 24 percent wage increase and that the whole issue of paid sick leave will be considered later, and for everyone, not just the rail workers. But that response, and the failure to insert the sick days into the contract, left workers and union leaders irate.

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The Rail Impasse: Your Questions Answered

By Admin

Reported by Harold Meyerson for The American Prospect.

So, what’s at the root of the conflict at the railroads?

In their very successful effort to raise their profits and payouts to investors, the seven major freight railroads have all but eliminated their competition, downsized their workforces to reduce the share of revenues going to wages, shifted to just-in-time (or sometimes late) delivery, reduced the number of trips (and personnel) by increasing the number of freight cars that the engines haul, and wrapped all of this into a business model called precision scheduled railroading, or PSR. This reduction of operating expenses was imposed on them (not that they resisted) by such Wall Street financiers as hedge fund operator Bill Ackman, who believe that you can never shower too much revenue on your shareholders.

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Congress votes to avert rail strike amid dire warnings

By Admin

Reported by Josh Funk and Kevin Freking for AP News.

Legislation to avert what could have been an economically ruinous freight rail strike won final approval in Congress on Thursday as lawmakers responded quickly to President Joe Biden’s call for federal intervention in a long-running labor dispute.

The Senate passed a bill to bind rail companies and workers to a proposed settlement that was reached between the rail companies and union leaders in September. That settlement had been rejected by four of the 12 unions involved, creating the possibility of a strike beginning Dec. 9.

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Rail unions urge Senate not to extend strike deadline

By Admin

Reported by Karl Evers-Hillstrom for The Hill.

One of the largest railroad unions on Thursday urged senators not to extend the Dec. 9 deadline for rail workers to strike and instead force through a contract that would guarantee paid sick leave for workers.

The plea from the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) — whose members rejected a tentative contract with railroads — indicates that senators are considering kicking the can down the road to prevent rail disruptions that would begin this weekend in advance of the deadline.

“Railroad workers are at their breaking point. An extension of the status quo will also deny railroad workers a much needed and well-deserved increase to their pay during a period where they have felt the woes of inflation. It has been three years since Railroad Workers have received a raise. They should not have to wait two more months,” Tony Caldwell, BMWED’s national division president, wrote in a letter to senators.

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On the Rail Strike, Biden Turned His Back on Workers

By Admin

Reported by Timothy Noah for The New Republic.

From time to time the Democrats are given an opportunity to demonstrate that they’re still the party of the working class. They have one now, but it looks like they’re going to flub it.

A railroad contract negotiated in September by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh was voted down by four of the 12 unions needed to ratify it, including the biggest one, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, which represents train conductors. That left the Biden administration and Congress with four choices. They could have allowed a threatened rail strike to move forward; Biden could have imposed, unilaterally, a cooling-off period under the 1926 Railway Labor Act; they could, under the same law, have forced the parties to accept a modified version of the Walsh contract that addressed the unions’ objections; or they could have forced the parties to accept the Walsh contract.

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House votes to avert rail strike, impose deal on unions

By Admin

Reported by Kevin Freking and Josh Funk for AP News.

The U.S. House moved urgently to head off the looming nationwide rail strike on Wednesday, passing a bill that would bind companies and workers to a proposed settlement that was reached in September but rejected by some of the 12 unions involved.

The measure passed by a vote of 290-137 and now heads to the Senate. If approved there, it will be signed by President Joe Biden, who urged the Senate to act swiftly.

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Freight rail strike averted, after frenzied negotiations

By Admin

Reported by Alex Daugherty, Burgess Everett, Tanya Snyder and Nick Niedzwiadek for Politico Pro.

The Senate voted Thursday to avert a freight rail strike just days before crucial drinking water, food and energy shipments were set to be sidelined, after hurried talks in both chambers of Congress and a visit to the Senate from two of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet secretaries — but a bipartisan push to add paid sick leave to the deal fell short.

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Senate votes to avert rail strike

By Admin

Reported by Joan McCarter for Daily Kos.

The Senate voted Thursday to force the railway unions to accept the tentative agreement they had reached with rail companies back in September and averting a potential rail strike that would have begun on Dec. 7. That vote was 80-15 with one—Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)—voting present.

The Senate failed to garner enough votes to pass an attached resolution from the House that required the companies to provide 7 days of paid sick leave to railway workers—the sticking point for labor in the contract. It failed in a 52-43 vote, not reaching the necessary 60. Having failed to secure that sick leave for workers, the Senate concluded legislative work for the week, not scheduled to come back until next Monday, late in the afternoon.

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Railway Labor Dispute Tests Democrats’ Longtime Ties With Unions

By Admin

Reported by Ian Kullgren and Diego Areas Munhoz for Bloomberg Law.

President Joe Biden’s eleventh-hour push to head off a rail strike with a Congressional intervention may have cleared the House Wednesday, but the long-term consequences for Democrats’ relationship with unions—not to mention the bill’s future in the Senate—are anyone’s guess.

The race to pre-empt a nationwide rail shutdown just before Christmas is fraying Democrats’ relationships with one another and unions themselves, with left-leaning members smarting over what they see as a betrayal of their union base. Biden finds himself in the exact jam he sought to avoid in September, when he dispatched Labor Secretary Marty Walsh to broker a deal between unions and rail executives.

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