Senate resolution would adopt the comprehensive recommendations made by President Biden’s appointees to the PEB.
On Monday, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, introduced a Senate resolution with U.S. Senator Richard, Burr (R-NC), that would prevent a nationwide rail strike if contract negotiations are not soon resolved.
Since 2019, the railroad industry and rail unions have been engaged in negotiations for a new contract, failing to produce an agreement.
In July 2022, following the process established by the Railway Labor Act, President Biden appointed a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to investigate the dispute and make recommendations. In August 2022, the PEB released its recommendations, which were endorsed by the White House.
“The recommendations proposed a 24 percent wage increase, plus $1,000 annual bonuses, to be applied retroactively dating to 2020, as well as increased health care and other benefits. Eight of the 12 unions agreed to the recommendations; however, four remaining unions have not,” a release from Senator Burr’s office said.
If the parties have not reached a tentative agreement by September 16th, the rail unions could engage in strike activity, which would cost an estimated $2 billion a day.
The resolution that Senators Wicker and Burr introduced would adopt the comprehensive recommendations made by President Biden’s appointees to the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB), which include significant wage rate increases for workers retroactive to 2020.
According to Senator Wicker’s office, rail providers, including some in Mississippi, are already beginning to wind down operations to prepare for a potential stoppage.
Senator Wicker said that a rail strike would be counterproductive for everyone involved and would have devastating impacts on our entire economy.
“While there is still time for the remaining parties to reach voluntary agreements to end this dispute, it is time to bring this matter to a close,” Wicker continued. “This resolution would implement the recommendations as issued by the Presidential Emergency Board. They are balanced, comprehensive, and would ensure rail service is not disrupted further.”
Senator Burr said a rail worker strike would be catastrophic for America’s transportation system and our already-stressed supply chain.
“The Presidential Emergency Board recommendations are a fair and appropriate solution to a years-long negotiation process, but labor unions are continuing to hold the entire nation’s rail system hostage as they demand more,” Burr said. “The Biden Administration should reject labor unions’ bullying tactics. This resolution would provide certainty for Americans who have a right to travel and work freely across state lines.”
On Friday, Wicker shared his support for the recommendations of the PEB as written and indicated he would be calling for legislation to implement them should negotiations fail.
“I remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached and a strike can be avoided. Halting rail service is counterproductive for both sides and would have devastating consequences for our country. It is time to end the brinksmanship and bring these negotiations to a close,” Wicker said.
“The Presidential Emergency Board has put forward a comprehensive and fair set of recommendations that, if adopted, could end this standoff today,” Wicker continued. “I will be calling on my colleagues in Congress to join the administration in endorsing these recommendations as written and advance legislation to resolve this dispute if it is clear that a shutdown in rail service is imminent.”