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Railroad going off into the distance.

What’s Next for Railroad Workers?

It has been an eventful few months for railroad workers as a possible strike loomed at the end of last year, 2022. However, President Biden has signed a resolution from Congress that imposes a tentative contract agreement. Congress passed the resolution on December 2, binding rail workers to the tentative contract agreement to avert the first national rail strike in decades. 

Most labor disputes are not typically debated in Congress. However, there is a century-old law that regulates labor relations when it comes to airlines and railroads. With this law in place, an economic issue became a political issue. 

The Railway Labor Act was passed in 1926. It was one of the first labor laws in our nation. In 1926 most of the railroads were unionized. The act was set up to regulate labor negotiations between management and unions instead of overseeing organizing campaigns for new unions and additional members. 

Due to this law, the House of Representatives was able to vote to impose contracts on four rail unions. A vote by the Senate followed the House vote, and then the eventual resolution was signed by President Joe Biden. 

Ian Jeffries, the CEO of the Association of American Railroads, the trade group representing the railroads, said, “The goal of the Railway Labor Act was to reduce the likelihood of work stoppage.”. 

According to CNN Business, the railroads deny they wanted this to end up in Congress, stating they would have preferred to broker a deal with the unions that the membership could ratify.  

How Could A Rail Strike Hurt The Country? 

 All parties can agree that a strike would cause a supply chain disaster. The country is still on the mend. Adding supply chain issues, just as we are coming out of inflation, will wreak havoc on the economy once again. A rail strike would have shut down around 30% of the nation’s freight shipments. 

Over 300 business groups, including the International Association of Movers, the American Farm Bureau, and the Chamber of Commerce, sent a letter to Congress on October 27 urging them to intervene while reminding them that the strike could worsen inflation. “A rail strike, even one of short duration, would be catastrophic,” said John Drake, a vice president at the Chamber of Commerce. Drake also remarked that even the potential of a work stoppage could affect the supply chain. Dangerous products such as fuels, chemicals, and fertilizers must be removed from circulation in the days leading up to a strike. 

Where Do Things Stand Now For Rail Workers? 

Ian Jeffries, as mentioned earlier, acknowledged, “there is more to be done to further address our employees’ work-life balance concerns.” Yet, he says the compromise deals that Congress voted to impose should help make schedules more predictable while delivering the biggest raises rail workers have seen in over four decades. Many people might disagree. We at NARVRE are committed to keeping you updated on every struggle or good news concerning the railroad, so you can count on us to keep you updated regarding the railroad’s future. We are the only company of its kind with the sole mission to PROTECT, PRESERVE, and PROMOTE the rights of any current rail worker or veteran. If you still need to become a member of NARVRE, consider joining today. You can find us on Facebook or speak with your local affiliate. 

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