Saying a rail shutdown would have been “catastrophic” for the nation, President Biden on Friday signed a resolution averting a rail strike after Congress approved the measure this week.
Biden thanked Congress for acting quickly to avoid a walkout by rail workers, which could have happened December 9 without a labor deal.
On Wednesday, the House voted to impose a compromise 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 rail workers’ request for seven days of paid sick leave. The Senate followed on Thursday passing a similar measure—but it left out the paid sick leave amendment.
A rail strike would have been, in the President’s words, “a Christmas catastrophe” right in the middle of the holiday shopping and travel season, as the U.S. rails are responsible for the transport of one-third of all U.S. freight. A rail shutdown would have aggravated 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.