Senate votes to avoid railroad strike, sending deal to Joe Biden’s office

The Senate voted 80 to 15 to avert a railroad strike by voting to pass a deal President Joe Biden brokered just before the holiday season but voted against giving railroad workers seven days of paid sick leave .

The vote comes after the House passed the deal on Wednesday after Mr. Biden asked Congress to intervene to prevent a strike.

Mr Biden had announced a tentative agreement between rail unions and railroad companies in September. But four of the 12 unions involved rejected the deal because they wanted seven days of paid sick leave.

“Decisive action by Congress ensures that we will avoid imminent and devastating economic consequences for workers, families and communities across the country,” Biden said in a statement after Thursday’s vote. “Communities will maintain access to clean water. Farmers and ranchers will continue to be able to bring food to market and feed their livestock. And hundreds of thousands of Americans in a number of industries will keep their jobs.

As a result, the House voted to avoid the railroad strike while holding a separate vote on granting seven days of paid sick leave to railroad workers, with both measures passing. Had a vote not taken on Dec. 9, workers would have gone on strike, which Biden said would cost 765,000 jobs, many of them unionized.

On Thursday, Labor Secretaries Marty Walsh and Transportation Pete Buttigieg went to the Senate to discuss the vote and the plan to avert a railroad strike.

A total of 80 senators voted to avoid the strike, 15 voted against and one voted present. Initially, some senators voted in favor of a 60-day cooling-off period to allow the railroads and unions to continue negotiations in good faith.

“I think a better approach is to bring all issues to the negotiating table,” said Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican. The Independent. But the amendment failed 69 to 26.

In addition, Senator Bernie Sanders has in turn proposed an amendment to allow paid sick leave for railroad workers. But Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, opposed the amendment on the grounds that the government should not get involved in labor disputes.

In the end, the bill received 52 affirmative votes, but it did not pass a filibuster. Republican Senators Mike Braun of Indiana, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Kennedy of Louisiana voted in favour.

“Well, the good news is that the House of Representatives voted to guarantee paid sick leave for workers in the railroad industry,” Mr. Sanders said. The Independent. “We had all but one Democrat. And we had six Republicans. And I’m proud of it. »

Mr Cruz faulted the White House for saying the deal was done in September before the election.

“It turns out he was deliberately misleading the American people and what he meant was that he kicked the streets for a few weeks to skip Election Day,” he said. he told The Independent. “And the White House got into a mess where they convinced all the Democrats to tell union workers to use common sense. “

Eventually, Mr. Sanders, an independent from Vermont, joined Democratic Senators John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Kirsten Gillirband of New York, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Jeff Merkley of Oregon in opposing the final deal aimed at avoiding a strike.

Additionally, Republican Senators Tim Scott of South Carolina, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Susan Collins of Maine, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Rick Scott of Florida Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Mr. Cruz and Mr. Rubio voted against the deal. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky voted “present”.

Mr Biden hailed the Senate passing the legislation to avert a strike.

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