On Thursday morning Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) vowed to work quickly to pass legislation to avoid a looming national rail strike.
On Wednesday the House passed a measure to avert a walkout by rail workers on December 9, imposing a compromise labor agreement brokered by the Biden Administration back in September. It includes 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses retroactive to 2020. The House also agreed to a workers’ request for seven days of paid sick leave.
“Senators are working morning, noon and night to reach agreement for us to act on this measure A-S-A-P. The Senate cannot leave until we get the job done,” Schumer said in a speech Thursday on the Senate floor.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Thursday urged the Senate to quickly pass the legislation, saying in an interview there is “no substitute” in the U.S. for a functioning freight rail system. “It wouldn’t just bring down our rail system, it would really shut down our economy,” he noted.
A rail strike could potentially impact one-third of all U.S. freight. It could aggravate inflation and supply chain issues, not least of all causing gas prices to soar again because many fuel products like sulfur and ethanol are transported by rail.