The House on Wednesday passed legislation to avoid a rail strike after President Joe Biden met with Congressional leaders, including Nancy Pelosi and urged them to act. File Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation to avoid a confrontation with national railroad workers, who have vowed to strike on Dec. 9 if no agreement is reached.
The legislation, which still needs to be approved by the Senate, passed the House by a vote of 290-137. If enacted the measure would require companies and railway employees to adhere to a tentative agreement that was brokered earlier this year by the Biden administration.
On Tuesday President Joe Biden issued a personal appeal for Congress to act. "I am calling on Congress to pass legislation immediately to adopt the Tentative Agreement between railroad workers and operators -- without any modifications or delay -- to avert a potentially crippling national rail shutdown," Biden said in an official White House press release.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., had expressed his intention to hold up the legislation unless a measure was added to guarantee seven days of paid sick leave to railroad employees.
"At a time of record profits in the rail industry, it's unacceptable that rail workers have zero guaranteed paid sick days. It's my intention to block consideration of the rail legislation until a roll call vote occurs on guaranteeing seven paid sick days to rail workers in America," Sanders tweeted on Tuesday.
A separate piece of legislation, mandating paid sick leave for railroad workers, passed the House by 221-207. The measure is significant because it addresses one of the key demands of railway workers and progressive representatives who were weary of moving forward with legislation that could override workers' demands.
The National Railway Act allows congress to intervene in labor disputes related to national railroads but the law has not been invoked since the 1990s.