Can a rail strike – and by extension food shortages on shelves – be avoided?

The move is seen by many, including those lobbying for it, as a last resort and one that undermines workers’ rights and union negotiations – especially as four of the 12 unions rejected the most recent offer brokered this fall by the Biden Administration.

However, many also agree that a strike must be avoided given the outsized impact it could have across industries and on the already precarious American economy.

“Tomorrow morning ​[Nov. 30] we will have a bill on the floor”​ that would adopt the tentative agreement reached in September with help from the Biden administration, including a 24% raise, no changes in copays, deductibles or coinsurance costs and time off for routine, preventative and emergency medical care, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday at the White house following a meeting with key legislators and President Biden.

She added that the current proposal and legislation will not include everything she “would like to see,”​ including paid sick leave, which is a sticking point for the unions that voted to reject the deal.

Pelosi also emphasized that she doesn’t like “going against the ability of unions to strike, but weighing the equities, we must avoid a strike.”

A rail strike would be ‘catastrophic’

In a statement released Monday night, Pelosi explained that if a rail strike were to occur, the consequences would be “catastrophic”​ and it “would grind our economy to a halt. Our entire nation would suffer: more than 750,000 workers, including many union members, would lose their jobs in just the first two week. Millions of families would be able to get groceries, medications and other goods, and our economy would be paralyzed as it continues to recover.”

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