February 6, 2023

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US Senate avoids large-scale rail strike: 'Avoid a disastrous Christmas' |  Abroad

US Senate avoids large-scale rail strike: ‘Avoid a disastrous Christmas’ | Abroad

On Thursday, the US Senate approved a bill from the Biden administration by a convincing majority (80-15) aimed at averting a large-scale rail strike. The US Parliament succeeded in doing this thanks to a 1926 law making it possible to settle disputes between railroads and unions.

By law, employees would receive a salary increase of about 24 percent over the next five years, but unions found this insufficient and demanded paid sick leave. The proposal, which goes beyond the unions’ wishes and has already been approved by the House of Representatives, needs only President Joe Biden’s signature. This is not expected to cause any problems. After the Senate vote, Biden said that “working together, we prevented a Christmas disaster in our supermarkets, our workplaces, and our communities.”

The railways were at a standstill with unions threatening to strike. According to an interest group, nearly 7,000 freight trains will stop as a result, costing the US economy an estimated $2 billion (€1.9 billion) per day.

This is the first time since the 1990s that the US Parliament has used the century-old law to settle such a trade dispute. According to the New York Times, it is remarkable that Biden, who calls himself a “pro-union president,” has intervened in this way. However, Biden himself said that “the consequences of a potential strike were simply too great for workers across the country to bear.”

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