December 1 – With just about a week to go before the railroad workers will strike, the question a number of people are debating is: will it happen?
Eight of the 12 unions have accepted the contract from early September, while four have said no. If even one union strikes, it’s believe all will hit the picket line.
A railroad workers strike would grind an already struggling economy to a pretty strong standstill.
A federal law called the Railway Labor Act specifically gives Congress authority over railway labor issues.
Yesterday, the US House of Representatives took a vote whether to force the workers to accept the contract.
The vote was 290 to 137 to force the contract. There were 79 Republicans who voted yes and seven Democrats voted no.
Congressman John Joyce voted yes. David Trone from Maryland voted yes. All Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman voted yes and a handful of PA Republican Congressmen voted yes.
The US Senate will take up the vote today, but it’s really uncertain whether the 60 votes needed to pass it are there.
Senators like Bernie Sanders and Marco Rubio have very openly said they are not going to support it.
Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “I don’t know where it goes. If it gets defeated today in the Senate, we’re only a week away from the would-be strike. So then what happens? Do they go back to the table and try to scramble this weekend to come up with something or do they allow the strike to just go ahead and take place starting next Friday?”
Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “I can argue some of this both ways…the hit to the economy, what this could do would be staggering. I don’t like that Congress was put in this position to have to decide this. At the same time, I feel like it’s irresponsible to take a chance on this happening. I understand there’s other issues, but if we let this happen with everything going on with our economy right now, it feels like it’s irresponsible of anyone to take a chance on this.”
Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM noted, “Think about water treatment and getting chemicals to these water treatment plants. It’s much bigger than a simple bit of food. You’re talking about the health and well-being of an entire country.”
Barkdoll said, “Yes. That’s the issue here. I think naturally the president and people in Congress and the Senate, they don’t want to overly amplify that point, but when you really get into the weeds on this, there truly are health and safety welfare, life and death issues here. Water treatment, food supplies. You saw the alarm a few days ago, gas companies are saying they could quickly even run out of gas in parts of the country if this strike happens.”
Keep in mind, if the strike happens on Friday, the chemical shipments have to stop four days before the strike because they don’t want to have the chemicals just stranded on railcars all over the country. So supply issues could start as early as next Monday or Tuesday.
Barkdoll said, “There’s where if the Senate does not pass this today, there’s going to be a mad scramble to try to figure something out to avoid this.”