Railroad Strike Update

Posted on Dec 1

Article by: Rick Walker, Vice President, TradeInsights, LCB, CCS

U.S. Senate Passes Bill to Prevent Rail Strike

The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted 80-15 in favor of a bill that would prevent a rail strike by imposing an earlier deal on freight-rail workers, after rejecting the House-passed measure that would have required rail companies to provide those workers with seven days of paid sick leave per year. The vote for the bill keeps Washington on track to block a damaging strike. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the legislation into law given that he called on Monday for Congress to act. By intervening, Congress will avert the threat of a national rail shutdown that would have ravaged supply chains and brought significant portions of the economy to a halt in the middle of the holidays.

The Senate took two other votes on Thursday and separately voted down those two additional provisions to address the labor dispute. The first vote was whether to institute a 60-day extension of the cooling-off period between both sides and the second vote was whether to grant workers seven days of paid sick leave. The first vote, on the cooling off period, failed 69-26. The second vote, to add seven paid sick days for workers, needed 60 votes to pass and fell short with a 52-43 total.

The third vote, which passed on Thursday was to uphold the agreement negotiated by the White House between freight employees and their bosses in back in September, passed 80-15. President Biden hosted the four House and Senate leaders at the White House on Tuesday, and they discussed the role for Congress in preventing a rail shutdown. “I negotiated a contract no one else could negotiate,” Mr. Biden said during a joint press conference Thursday with French President Emmanuel Macron. “The only thing that was left out was whether there was paid leave.” The president added that the U.S. is a rare wealthy nation without guaranteed paid leave, and he wants to provide paid sick leave “not just for rail workers, but for all workers.”

We will continue to monitor this important issue and provide further updates as warranted.

Please contact your V. Alexander account team, or you may also contact our Trade Compliance team at tradeinsights@valexander.com with any questions