US Chamber of Commerce calls on Congress to settle rail dispute By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Aerial view of gantry cranes, freight containers and freight railroad trains ahead of a possible strike if no deal with railroad unions, at the Union Pacific Railroad Los Angeles (UPLA) intermodal yard in Commerce, Cal

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The leader of America’s largest business lobby on Tuesday called on Congress to intervene in an ongoing railroad labor standoff that threatens to halt food and fuel shipments while causing billions of dollars in damage to an already ailing national economy.

Susan Clark, chief executive of the US Chamber of Commerce, appealed to federal lawmakers to intervene a day after members of the nation’s largest railroad union rejected a preliminary agreement brokered by a board appointed by President Joe Biden.

“Congress must now enforce the agreement that President Biden negotiated, and that railroad leadership and the union agreed to,” Clark said.

Biden’s presidential emergency council in August released the framework for the tentative deal that took place between major carriers such as Union Pacific (NYSE:) and dozens of unions representing 115,000 workers.

Four unions have since rejected the deal, angering railroads who responded to their request for 15 paid days off by offering a personal paid day off after their members kept vital cargo flowing during the pandemic.

These unions and employers have until early December to settle their differences. If they don’t, workers can strike and the railroad can fire employees—unless Congress intervenes.

“If Congress fails to do this, the rail strike will greatly exacerbate inflation and the economic challenges Americans face today,” she said.