The US House of Representatives Wednesday passed a joint resolution 290-137 to finalize a tentative agreement between railroad unions and providers as a railroad strike looms. Representative Donald M. Payne Jr. (D-NJ) introduced the resolution Tuesday in response to President Joe Biden’s urging. A railroad strike could cost the nation’s economy as much as $2 billion per day.
The joint resolution forces the unions to accept the most recent “recent tentative agreements, side letters, and local carrier agreements” that haven’t been ratified. One of the significant disputes causing the delay in an agreement is the issue of paid sick days for railway employees. The House also passed a concurrent resolution that adds seven paid sick days to the tentative agreement that the joint resolution would pass. The concurrent resolution passed 221-207.
In response to the resolutions, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees stated:
The BMWED applauds the representatives in Congress and any Senators that will stand in support of Railroad Workers receiving paid sick leave. The additional legislation needs to pass so that Railroad Workers will have basic protections against illness, and protection from punishment from the railroads when Workers are most vulnerable.
In September, the railway unions reached a tentative agreement, which delayed strikes by the workers. The tentative deal contained wage increases, bonuses, easements of strict attendance policies with unpaid days off for doctor’s appointments, and no increases to copays or deductibles under healthcare plans. However, union members failed to approve the deal, and an agreement was not reached.
Both measures now go to the Senate before reaching Biden for ratification.