Senators send letter urging colleagues to vote for the emergency rail agreement
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) sent a letter to their Senate Republican colleagues urging them to vote in favor of an emergency agreement to avert a potential railroad labor strike.
The Senators wrote, “Congress has been forced into a position to either intervene in labor negotiations or allow a rail strike that will cripple our economy. This is the last place we had hoped to be, and we are certain you feel similarly. Our response at this moment will determine whether rail workers receive their next paycheck, whether families can put food on the table this holiday season, and even whether the lights turn on. However, it must also be noted that how we choose to respond will set a precedent. It is our strong belief that Congress must act to avert this rail strike; however, we cannot support an agreement that goes beyond what was negotiated by all parties and what was agreed to by union leadership.”
Senators Lummis and Cramer have sounded the alarm on a potential rail strike since news of a strike started circulating in late summer 2022. Senator Lummis gave a series of interviews and statements regarding the strike and its potential impact on Wyoming’s energy economy in September. In September, Senator Cramer sounded the alarm of the potential economic impacts of a rail strike. He also warned of the dangers in having 535 arbiters negotiating the details of a labor agreement.
Rail workers in the United States could go on strike as soon as December 9 if labor unions and rail companies do not come to an agreement on contract negotiations. This summer, President Joe Biden appointed a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to work with the railroads and labor union leaders to come to an agreement on sick leave policies, wage increases, and healthcare premiums. The deal negotiated included $11,000 in backpay on average, additional leave, and a 24% wage increase.
Railroads transport 40% of all goods in the United States, including a majority of coal, trona, ethanol, fertilizer and grains. A railroad strike would cost the American economy nearly $2 billion per day and would have ripple effects that would be evident for months to come.