While a temporary version of the REEF Act was included in the COVID-19 relief bill passed in December 2020, that measure will expire on May 10, 2023. Without the REEF Act, sequestration will likely result in a 5.7% reduction in railroad unemployment and sickness benefits through fiscal year 2030.
“Our railroad employees deserve their full benefits, and this bipartisan, bicameral legislation will ensure that they do. Our Railroad Employee Equality and Fairness (REEF) Act removes budget sequestration constraints from the railroad unemployment insurance program, guaranteeing access to these benefits. I am proud to join my colleagues on this common-sense bill that stands up for railroad workers,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick.
“Big railroad companies have cut more than a third of their workers in less than ten years. When these corporations lay off rail workers in Ohio, workers should be able get the same unemployment benefits that are available to workers in other industries. This common-sense legislation would ensure that rail workers will no longer have to worry about the unemployment benefits they have earned being cut because of outdated and unfair rules,” said Senator Brown.
“Current law unfairly penalizes America’s railroaders by imposing a harmful reduction of their unemployment and sickness benefits. They aren’t responsible for excessive federal spending, and no other industry in our country has to face this cut. The REEF Act will right that wrong, ensuring the men and women who keep our trains moving receive the critical benefits they deserve in full,” said Senator Fischer.
“We deeply thank Senator Fischer, Representative Schakowsky, and all the original cosponsors for helping us advocate for railroader’s sickness and unemployment benefits. We look forward to working alongside them to restore equity across unemployment insurance programs,” said Association of American Railroads President and CEO Ian Jefferies.
“We appreciate the bipartisan leadership that is moving this important bill forward. The rail industry is a great place to work and this measure helps keep it that way – making sure workers get the benefits they’re due, and railroads are able to attract top-level talent to a workforce critical to the U.S. economic engine,” said American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) President Chuck Baker.