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Biden requests Congress to pass legislation before potential national rail shutdown

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On Monday, President Joe Biden urged Congress to pass legislation that could avert a potential shutdown of the rail network across the nation as it could strongly impact the economy as well as the life of citizens. In September, the White House had brokered a tentative deal with national labor unions but some of the unions are refusing to come onboard and could go on strike before the first week of December.

In 1926, Congress had passed the Railway Labor Act. This act has the ability to force workers to go back to their work station, after the members on Capitol Hill pass a congressional resolution.

In a statement on Monday evening President Biden said that he was “calling on Congress to pass legislation immediately to adopt the Tentative Agreement between railroad workers and operators—without any modification or delay—to avert a potentially crippling national rail shutdown.”

The unions believe that certain important issues including paid sick leave have not been addressed in the agreement. They require such leave so that they could recover from an illness or look after a family member who is ill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement which said that the House will consider the legislation, this week.

The congressional resolution will cut short the dispute which has been present from at least two years. It will also override the votes that were received by four unions who have the majority of members. Even a short strike could have far reaching consequences.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to congressional leaders of both the Republican and Democratic Parties and asked them to intervene; in order to avert a labor strike or a lockout. The letter was signed by several business lobbying groups.

Some members of both the political parties are reluctant to intervene in this issue. Some Democrats do not want to tell labor unions what they should do while some Republicans believe that government should not intervene in negotiations that involve private contracts and it should be worked out by the private parties that are involved.

If there is a strike, the economy of the nation would be severely impacted. There would be major disruptions in water supply across the nation and travel would be curtailed. There would also be supply chain disruptions as there would be insufficient flow of goods during the holiday season.

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