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Congress must hit brakes on rail strike


As it stands, Congress has a solid opportunity to prevent a railroad strike that could kneecap the American economy.

There is, however, always a chance to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Leaders from both sides of the aisle have gotten behind President Biden’s call for Congress to head off a potential freight rail strike, with just days left before a threatened shutdown could start to affect supplies for critical resources such as drinking water, as Politico reported.

Seven unions have accepted the deal brokered by Biden, with four unions rejecting.  White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday said the president believes a shutdown is “unacceptable” because of “the harm it would inflict on jobs, families, farms, businesses, and communities across the country.”

If a rail strike were to go ahead, the supply chain fallout be devastating, impacting manufacturers of food, fuel, cars and more. And as we’ve learned from recent supply chain problems, that will only hike already high prices on goods.

According to CBS News, the effects would be swift. Chemical manufacturers and refineries will be some of the first businesses affected, because railroads will stop shipping hazardous chemicals about a week before the strike deadline to ensure that no tank cars filled with dangerous liquids wind up stranded.

Chlorine that water treatment plants rely on to purify water would become hard to get. Gas prices would climb higher if refineries shut down without  the ingredients they need to make fuel or because railroads aren’t available to haul away byproducts like sulfur.

Consumers wouldn’t be the only ones affected. Many passenger railroads use tracks own by freight railroads. A rail strike could literally be the end of the line for commuters.

It’s a very big deal.

But some lawmakers are willing to tap the brakes on a resolution.  Sen. Bernie Sanders, (I-Vt.) is one of them.

“If your question is will I demand a vote to make sure that workers in the rail industry have what tens of millions of Americans have … guaranteed paid sick leave? The answer is yes,” Sanders said.

“I appreciate the work the president and the secretary of labor have done but at the end of the day you’re looking at a terrible example of outrageous corporate greed with a railroad industry that’s making record-breaking profits, $21 billion in the last nine months alone,” Sanders said. “I’m going to do everything I can to see that these workers are treated by these railroads with respect and dignity.”

Great speech, Bernie. And Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla) said he plans to vote no on any deal the workers don’t support.

But surely these senators know what’s at stake, and what steps rail companies would have to put in place before the Dec. 9 deadline in case of a strike.

Negotiations have been ongoing for months.

This is not the time for posturing. It’s time for action.

Keep America moving.





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