A rail worker strike was imminent. Currently, Rail Worker Labor Unions are set to strike on December 9th. This would cause a nationwide shutdown of all railways. The economic impact would be catastrophic for an economy that has been on shaky ground since Covid. The workers have been requesting sick-paid days off and pay raises to counterbalance the rise in the cost of living. A tentative agreement was reached, agreed to by 8 of the 12 labor unions. With improved healthcare and raises, but not the biggest request of the workers, paid sick days. Under the new agreement, rail workers are not given sick days. In the past, workers were punished for missing work, and workers are on call 24-7, meaning they have to come to work if they are called or face punishment. This has led to multiple rail workers working sick and some dying because they could not miss work.
“As a proud pro-labor President, I am reluctant to override the ratification procedures and the views of those who voted against the agreement,” Biden said in a statement. “But in this case — where the economic impact of a shutdown would hurt millions of other working people and families — I believe Congress must use its powers to adopt this deal.” Joe Biden has requested that Congress force the Labor Unions to accept the new 5-year contract. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi affirmed that Congress will move ahead with a vote on the agreement this week. Bernie Sanders voiced opposition to forcing the agreement on Labor Unions without meeting their demands for paid sick days. Other Senators like John Hickenlooper, from Colorado, announced that he will only support the passage of the agreement if it included 7 paid sick days.
The House of Representatives passed the measure, forcing the agreement on the workers, 290-137 with 79 Republicans voting yes, and 8 Democrats voting no. The Progressive Caucus in the House forced a vote on including 7 paid sick days in the agreement, which passed with all Democrats and three Republicans supporting the addition to the agreement.