US rail worker strike averted as president signs legislation

Adam Yanelli


HOUSTON (ICIS)–US President Joe Biden signed legislation early Friday that averts a potential strike of rail workers that could have begun as early as 9 December.

Biden signed the bill that was first passed out of the US House of Representatives on Wednesday and then approved by a majority of US Senators on Thursday.

The Senate rejected a proposed amendment that would have guaranteed rail workers seven days of paid sick leave. The House passed a resolution in support, but it is not included in the bill to be signed by the president.

Biden said in remarks prior to signing the bill that his administration would not stop fighting for paid sick leave for rail workers.

The passage through both houses of Congress means the tentative agreement reached by the labour unions and the railroad companies in September will take effect.

The Congressional action was needed after the membership of some of the 12 labour unions rejected the tentative agreement, setting up the possibility of a strike.

US chemical manufacturers are one of the largest users of freight rail as the industry ships more than 33,000 carloads per week worth $2.8bn.

In the US, chemical railcar loadings represent about 20% of chemical transportation by tonnage, with trucks, barges and pipelines carrying the rest.

Many chemical facilities would have been forced to curtail production or shut down within the first week of a rail service embargo.

Thumbnail shows a railroad. Image by Shutterstock.


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