What Does The Rail Strike Bill Mean?

Last week, Congress adopted a measure that forces a deal between warring national freight railroads and their unions, averting a potential December 9th strike that could have crippled U.S. travel and commerce ahead of the busy holiday shopping season.

The overwhelmingly bipartisan 80-15 vote in the Senate and 290-137 vote in the House sent the measure to President Biden’s desk, which he signed. The lawmakers would not provide rail workers with any additional paid sick leave benefits that union leaders vigorously sought in recent months.

Can they still strike?

Legally, no. The Railway Labor Act, a 96-year-old law prevents railroad workers from striking in the interest of national defense. Any strikes from railway workers or their unions would be illegal or “wildcat” strikes.

Congress and the administration are forcing rail workers to accept a contract they didn’t negotiate, that they don’t want, and that still doesn’t guarantee paid sick days, and other safety concerns.

Why should I care?

  1. Solidarity: “Efforts by private entities to use public power to prevent union activities or to retaliate against workers who organize for their rights ought to be resisted at every level.” – American Solidarity Party Platform
  2. It affects you: the struggles of our rail workers affect our national supply chains. When rail workers are tired and sick, accidents happen, causing injuries and supply chain issues. Also, if this can happen to them it can happen to YOU! An injury to one is an injury to all.

What can we do?

As the bill has been signed into law, we can support rail workers if they decide to strike. Labor organizing and strikes, when necessary, are collective actions by workers.

Support policies and a society of worker ownership. That way decisions are made by workers. Not fat cat executives or congressional cronies. (Texas should create policies and laws to make worker-owned and cooperative businesses easier to establish and operate.- Texas Solidarity Party Platform)

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