House Passes Legislation Forcing Rail Workers To Accept Biden Offer

Workers walk over empty tracks of the Austrian railway operator OeBB at the Westbahnhof railway station in Vienna on November 28, 2022, during a warning strike of the railway workers over a wage dispute. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images)

UPDATED 10:48 AM PT – Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The House of Representatives has passed a legislation that will force rail unions to accept the terms offered to help them by the Biden administration.

On Wednesday, in a 290-137 vote, House lawmakers voted to pass the legislation. 

Those in favor of the legislation say that Congress had to act in order to prevent a strike and give workers what they are asking for. Those against the bill argued that it is not Congress’ place and that they were only voting on it because Joe Biden failed at the negotiation table.

The lower chamber weighed the resolution after top congressional leaders met with Joe Biden on Tuesday. Biden asked Congress to adopt the tentative agreement between railroad workers and operators after he failed to reach terms with all 12 unions. Despite calling himself the most pro-union president, Biden begged Congress to step in to prevent a strike, as a shutdown would be detrimental to the economy.

The September deal allowed for raises and bonuses retroactive to 2020. However, workers are stunned at the lack of paid sick time.

Democrats, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who claim to be pro-union, are now backing the move to force the agreement on the rail workers.

“It’s not everything I would like to see. I think that we should have paid sick leave,” Pelosi said. “Every country, every developed country in the world has it. We don’t. But nonetheless, we we have an improved situation. And again, I don’t like going against the ability of the unions to strike, but weighing the equities, we must avoid a strike.”

The legislation will now move to the Senate. Senators will have little time to act as rail workers are vowing to strike on December 9th.


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