President Joe Biden urged Congress on Monday to approve legislation aiming to avert a rail strike by helping reach an agreement between railroad workers and management.
The White House issued a statement on Monday, in which the president wrote: “I am calling on Congress to pass legislation immediately to adopt the Tentative Agreement between railroad workers and operators – without any modifications or delay – to avert a potentially crippling national rail shutdown.”
In the statement, Biden said that both his advisors and cabinet officials believe “no path to resolve the dispute at the bargaining table” exists even if he and his administration put in their best effort.
If the two parties will not reach an agreement by December 9th, almost 7,000 freight trains could go idle, possibly costing businesses up to $2 billion daily.
Rail Strike Unavoidable?
The president made a big deal in September about reaching a tentative agreement to avoid a strike right before the midterm elections in 2021.
“Today is a win — and I mean it sincerely — a win for America,” Biden exclaimed back on September 15 during a speech in the Rose Garden.
The president takes pride in being a supporter of rail workers and trains, having spent most of his political life on Amtrak trains, commuting from Delaware to Washington, DC.
As part of their new contract, rail workers demand paid sick days, but Biden asked Congress to act to resolve the dispute, threatening serious economic consequences if nothing is done.
“Let me be clear: a rail shutdown would devastate our economy. Without freight rail, many U.S. industries would shut down,” the president said.
He attempted to justify his call for emergency measures by claiming that he was “reluctant” to ask Congress to settle the labor dispute because he was a “proud pro-labor president.”
Left-leaning Congress Members have repeatedly chastised railway companies for failing to negotiate paid time off with their employees.