Quad City Area legislators vote to avoid a railway strike

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 11:31 PM CST
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would avoid a railroad strike on Wednesday.

In September, with the help of federal intervention the Class One Railways and 12 unions came together with a tentative agreement. Since then, four unions voted down the deal. Those unions rejecting the offer make up about half of the rail workers in the country.

President Joe Biden urged Congress to intervene, as the renewed deadline for a strike approaches on Dec. 9,

Both Quad City Area representatives in the House, Mariannette Miller-Meeks Miller-Meeks (R-IA 2)and Cheri Bustos (D-IL 17) voted in favor of the bill that would circumvent the unions.

Experts worry a train worker strike could hurt the supply chain. In part, that is why Bustos said in a statement she voted for the legislation.

“While Congressional involvement in the collective bargaining process is far from ideal, the action we took today was essential to protect our economy from a devastating blow,” Bustos wrote. “I’m hopeful that the railroads will continue negotiating in good faith to ensure that workers in Illinois and across the country have the fair pay and quality of life they deserve.”

Before Wednesday’s House vote, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin encouraged representatives to vote to impose the unions to accept a deal.

Durbin said while he supports unions and their right to collectively bargain, a strike simply can’t happen.

“We have congressional authority and opportunity in this kind of situation, in the extreme,” Durbin said. “We’ve never exercised quite as we’re being called on to do now, but at least we’re in a position where we can avert a national rail strike that would cause so many jobs and hurt so many businesses.”

The Senator is also in favor of adding stipulations that would increase sick leave for workers, which the house also approved in a separate bill.

Across the aisle, in reaction to the House’s vote, the office of Iowa Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) provided TV6 News with the following statement:

“Senator Ernst believes President Biden shouldn’t be passing the buck off to Congress,” a spokesperson wrote. “[She] will review any legislation that comes before the Senate and continue to hear from Iowans on how to best support workers, businesses, and families.”

The offices of Representative Miller-Meeks, and Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), have not yet responded to TV6′s request for comment.

In the Senate, there isn’t a date set for a vote yet.

The last time the rail workers went on strike was in 1992, however, it only lasted about two days as Congress also intervened back then.