Rail union rejects deal, readies for December strike

The U.S. is once again staring down the threat of a national rail shutdown that would block the flow of goods in the middle of the holiday season. We’ll also look at Republican divides over Ukraine aid and how long you need to work to pay your rent.

Members of a key rail union voted to reject a tentative contract agreement negotiated by the Biden administration, raising the risk of a strike that would shut down the nation’s railroads.

Train and engine workers at the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers’s transportation division (SMART-TD) narrowly voted down the deal, the union announced Monday.

  • The vote sets the stage for a walkout in early December, in the middle of the holiday shopping season that demands increased shipping volume.
  • Railroads transport around one-third of U.S. freight, including large amounts of food, packaged goods, fuel and car parts that can’t be shipped by other means.
  • Workers are demanding better pay, more reliable schedules, stronger safety standards and the ability to take time off if they are sick or have a doctor’s appointment.

Congress will likely step in: Labor leaders expect lawmakers to use their authority to block a strike and enforce the terms of the deal the Biden administration negotiated in September. But they will probably wait until the last minute to give the parties a chance to reach a deal. That would prompt railroads to scale back their services one week before the strike date, leading to shipping delays and a shutdown of commuter rail.

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