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House Passes Bill to End Rail Strike Negotiations

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill designed to prevent a rail strike, according to The Hill.

The bill: The legislation, which was passed on a strong bipartisan basis, included a range of provisions that were part of a tentative agreement the Biden administration helped negotiate between the unions and railroads in September.

  • The deal provides rail workers with a 24% raise over the course of five years, including retroactive pay, maintains health care premium payment caps and ensures that they are able to take time off for medical appointments without facing penalties.
  • The House also passed a separate bill that would provide rail workers with seven days of sick leave per year—a key demand of the rail unions.

The urgency: Before Congress stepped in, the railroads and unions were barreling toward a possible strike as soon as Dec. 9. House action alone does not eliminate that threat, but it is a significant advance toward a resolution.

  • Without a final deal in place, railways across the country could begin shutting down next week and begin metering service for shippers in the coming days, wreaking havoc on the economy during the holiday season.

Next steps: The bill will need to clear a vote in the U.S. Senate before being sent to President Biden for his signature. Senate passage will require 60 votes, and the precise timeline for Senate floor activity is still being finalized.

Our push: In advance of the vote, the NAM urged Congress to support the legislation. “It is imperative that Congress utilize its authority to resolve this labor negotiation,” said NAM Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse.

  • Following the vote, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said, “Manufacturers thank the U.S. House for taking bipartisan action to avert a national rail strike. We now urge the Senate to act quickly in order to avoid devastating disruptions to our nation’s supply chain.”

NAM in the news: ABC News highlighted the NAM’s efforts to help resolve the ongoing rail labor negotiations.

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