Ruling Out All Other Options, Biden Urges Congress To Prevent A Rail Strike

Biden’s new decision reflects a break with elements of his labor base, as rank-and-file train workers battled for stronger sick leave rules.

Two months earlier, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh led an all-night negotiation session to defuse the strike threat. Three of the 12 unions have since rejected the accord.

Biden requested Congress to implement the September agreement without amendments or delay.

Commitment To Workers Should Come Last?

Biden stated he was hesitant to propose Congress weigh in, but the economic ramifications of inaction were too enormous. He also sent a message to Democratic legislators who could oppose the deal.

A few in Congress want to better the agreement for labor or management, he added. Any alterations, however well-intentioned, might cause a shutdown. Both parties negotiated in good faith.

Enacting the accord would eliminate the suspenseful deadlines that have approached every few weeks since summertime and allow companies that rely on freight rail cargo to stop doomsday preparations.

Freight rail transports food for people and cattle, energy commodities, and chlorine for safe drinking water.

Biden said they couldn’t let their commitment for improved worker outcomes lead to a holiday-season rail freight halt.

Forcing Big Labor To Fold Or Go Broke

Pelosi endorsed Biden’s approach and promised to bring legislation to the House floor this week. Given that major GOP senators embrace this strategy, any legislation should have sufficient support to override Democratic objections.

Schumer’s office could not be reached for comment.

Two groups representing gas station operators cautioned Monday that a freight train stoppage might begin as soon as Dec. 9.

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman, a spokesman for NATSO, which serves travel plaza and truckstop operators, said a labor stoppage would hamper gasoline marketers’ ability to sell fuel to U.S. consumers and business fleets.

White House communications secretary Karine Jean-Pierre wouldn’t confirm or reject a Washington Post claim that President Joe Biden may seek Congress to intercede to avoid rail strikes or lockouts.

She claimed the administration has been in “frequent conversation with Congress” and “when the president has reached a choice, you’ll hear from him.”

She said Biden is personally involved and has engaged his team and Congress in case the problem passes to them, as it has 18 times in the previous 60 years.

This Could Hit Us All Very Hard

NATSO and SIGMA, a gasoline marketer trade association, warned that a strike or lockout might disrupt ethanol and diesel emission fluid supplies.

All diesel equipment with more than 74 horsepower must have a pollution-control system that employs water and urea-based diesel exhaust fluid. 60%-70% of ethanol is transported by rail. Alcohol concentration prevents pipeline transport.

Neuman said the U.S. economy hinges on transport fuel, and if the key components can’t get there, the economic effect will be dramatic. A protracted railroad closure will limit the nation’s fuel supply by affecting the supply of ethanol, a critical element of gasoline, and diesel exhaust fluid, needed by most heavy-duty trucks.

The railways and four rejected unions have until Dec. 9 to renegotiate a new agreement. If a deal isn’t struck in the next few days, railways may cease delivering essential goods like ethanol and urea to avoid a shutdown.

This article appeared in NewsHouse and has been published here with permission.