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President Biden signs bill that averts rail strike despite opposition from unions

Joe Biden
Posted at 9:02 AM, Dec 02, 2022

President Joe Biden signed a bill on Friday that prevents 12 rail unions from going on strike next week. The president signed the bill to head off a potentially crippling supply chain disruption in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Biden signed the bill after the House and Senate took bipartisan votes this week to advance the legislation.

The bill includes an increase in paid time off and wages for rail workers. What it doesn't include, however, is additional paid sick time, which was the main sticking point.

Although eight of the 12 unions signed a collective bargaining agreement, the unions say they would have gone on strike unless all 12 unions have finalized a contract.

The legislation binds the remaining unions to the same type of contract signed by the other eight unions.

Given the risk of clogging supply chains in the weeks leading up to Christmas, he has urged Congress to intervene, upsetting unions. Biden convened congressional leaders on Tuesday to rally bipartisan support.

Trade groups said in a letter to Congress that a rail strike would cause a $2 billion per day loss to the economy.

It is why groups like the National Retail Federation urged Congress to act.

The possibility of a rail strike has been on the horizon for months. The Biden administration got involved during the summer by getting the sides to hold off on a strike during a 60-day cooling-off period in July. That period expired in September.

During that time, the Presidential Emergency Board came up with a recommended contract for the sides, which included a 24% compounded wage increase during the five-year period from 2020 through 2024, with a 14.1% wage increase effective immediately for union employees. The retroactive pay increase would provide an average of $11,000 per employee in back pay.

It also gives employees additional paid time off and cap employee insurance contributions at 15%.