By Paige Anderson
ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Yesterday, by a bipartisan vote of 290-137, the House passed legislation to avert a nationwide freight rail strike. The bill would impose a labor agreement negotiated by the White House, railroads and labor unions but rejected by workers from 4 out the 12 unions. In addition, the House voted on a separate bill, which passed 221-207, to add seven days of paid sick leave to the original agreement.
Both bills now face the Senate for a vote. How quickly the Senate is able to vote on the bills depends on whether or not an agreement can be reached on unanimous consent to take up the bill swiftly and avoid days of standard procedural delays.
In the meantime, the cooling off period is set to expire on December 9.
In anticipation of a potential strike, U.S. railroad companies have begun to reduce shipments of some hazardous chemicals, such as chlorine, ethylene oxide and sulfuric acid.
New shipments are expected to be halted on Friday if no agreement is reached or if the Senate fails to pass the bill. The Environmental Protection Agency has expressed concern that some needed chemicals for drinking water will not be able to be transported. In addition, rail shipments of ethanol could be reduced or halted, which will disrupt the nation’s fuel supply chain.
Paige Anderson is NACS director of government relations and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.