WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congress is working to avert a rail strike that could impact our community. The measure passed today in the house on a largely bipartisan vote.  

Many rail lines pass through New York’s southern tier and so the threat of the strike could be damaging. 

On a 290 to 137 vote, the legislation the House passed today would force the rail companies and employees to accept an agreement which included increased pay and flexible schedules for rail workers. The New York Times is reporting some of the unions have hesitated to proceed with the agreement because it lacks paid family or medical leave. The unions threatened to strike if an agreement can’t be reached before next Friday. Congress is stepping in to prevent that from happening because if a strike occurs, that could have detrimental economic damage nationally, including in the Twin Tiers.  

In a separate vote which would codify the previous agreement, the House also approved a plan to add a minimum of seven days of paid sick leave for rail workers as part of their labor contract. That vote came down to 221 to 207 with the majority of republicans voting against this measure.  

Our local representative Joe Sempolinski (R- NY) voted ‘yes’ to the first measure which would implement the rail agreement but voted ‘no’ on the measure that would include the additional paid sick days. Both measures now head to the Senate. It’s unclear which way the Senate will vote on both pieces of legislation.