On Friday, Dec. 2, President Biden signed railroad-related legislation that blocks a strike that could have had major impacts on the U.S. economy. The bi-partisan legislation imposes the tentative national agreement negotiated by a Presidential Emergency Board in September.
All 12 unions that represent a total of 115,000 workers must ratify their contracts to prevent a strike. Four railroad unions voted not to ratify the labor deal, a proposed five-year contract that included wage increases and $5,000 in bonuses. The unions that rejected the deal expressed concern with some unaddressed issues including lack of paid sick time and working conditions.
While the House of Representatives voted on a second resolution to give seven days of paid sick leave to railroad employees the measure did not pass the Senate. In a statement on Thursday, Dec. 1, Biden noted that he is still working to push for paid sick leave for workers of all industries.
Since negotiations started in June, concerned stakeholders, including ISRI, have written to the Biden administration and Congress urging them to work with both parties to avert a possible rail strike and warning of the potential impacts on U.S. businesses and communities.
For the recycled materials industry, a rail strike of any kind would disrupt the nation’s supply chains for materials and other goods. “The recycled materials industry supports a secure, sustainable supply chain,” says Billy Johnson, ISRI’s chief lobbyist. “Recyclers provide a renewable source of sustainable materials for manufacturers. So, if the recycled materials industry slows down because the railroads slowdown, then that will hurt the entire manufacturing supply chain not only within the U.S. but also around the world.”
The recycled materials industry thanks Congress and President Biden for their quick action to avert an economically crippling supply chain disruption.