On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, AL-07, voted for H.J. Res 100, legislation to adopt the Tentative Agreement between railroads and railroad workers reached in September and avert a catastrophic national rail shutdown. This measure passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 290 to 137. Rep. Sewell also voted for a separate measure, H. Con. Res. 119, that would add seven days of paid sick leave for railroad workers to the Tentative Agreement. This is a key priority for labor and a value that Sewell shares. This measure passed by a vote of 221 to 207. The legislative package will now be considered by the Senate.
“A national rail shutdown would completely devastate our economy, leave shelves empty, and worsen the railroad blockages that we are working hard to fix,” said Rep. Sewell. “I am thrilled that Congress has acted quickly and decisively to avert this catastrophic outcome, all while securing key advances for rail workers. This agreement will provide peace of mind for families and businesses ahead of the holiday season.”
The Tentative Agreement secures important advances for workers, including:
- A 24 percent pay raise and a $5,000 bonus
- No changes in copays, deductibles or coinsurance costs
- Time off for routine, preventative and emergency medical care
- Protecting the two-man crew
While Rep. Sewell was reluctant to bypass the standard ratification process for the Tentative Agreement, she believed it necessary to act quickly to prevent a catastrophic nationwide rail shutdown. Such a shutdown would grind our economy to a halt and touch the lives of nearly every family:
- As many as 765,000 workers, including many union members, would lose their jobs in just the first two weeks of a strike
- Millions of families wouldn’t be able to get groceries, medications and other goods
- Many communities wouldn’t be able to acquire chlorine to keep their water supply clean
- Businesses wouldn’t be able to get their products to market
- Perishable goods would spoil before reaching consumers
Under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, Congress has both the authority and the responsibility to prevent this outcome and ensure the uninterrupted operation of critical transportation services. The shutdown-averting legislation will adopt the Tentative Agreement and give America’s families and businesses confidence in our economy this holiday season.