WASHINGTON, Nov 29 (KUNA) -- US President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass legislation "immediately" to adopt the Tentative Agreement between railroad workers and operators "without any modifications or delay to avert a potentially crippling national rail shutdown."
"Let me be clear: a rail shutdown would devastate our economy. Without freight rail, many US industries would shut down," Biden said in a statement, late on Monday.
He added that he is "reluctant to override the ratification procedures and the views of those who voted against the agreement. But in this case - where the economic impact of a shutdown would hurt millions of other working people and families - I believe Congress must use its powers to adopt this deal."
"At this critical moment for our economy, in the holiday season, we cannot let our strongly held conviction for better outcomes for workers deny workers the benefits of the bargain they reached and hurl this nation into a devastating rail freight shutdown," he continued.
"Congress has the power to adopt the agreement and prevent a shutdown," he stressed, adding that "Congress should get this bill to my desk well in advance of December 9th so we can avoid disruption."
The tentative agreement was approved by labor and management negotiators in September that provides a 24 percent pay raise for rail workers, improved health care benefits and unscheduled leave for medical needs but four of the 12 unions have rejected the agreement.
For her part, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that "this week, the House will consider legislation adopting the Tentative Agreement reached in September after months of hard-fought negotiations."
"We are reluctant to bypass the standard ratification process for the Tentative Agreement but we must act to prevent a catastrophic nationwide rail strike, which would grind our economy to a halt," she added (end)