The US House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to ratify a bill between rail companies and unions that essentially blocks the possibility of a strike.
Provided the Senate also gives its stamp of approval, the bill – which basically forces the companies and unions to accept a deal that was brokered by the American government back in September - will then go to US President Joe Biden for his signature, thereby avoiding a national railway strike that was set to begin Dec. 9.
“This overwhelming bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives makes clear that Democrats and Republicans agree that a rail shutdown would be devastating to our economy and families across the country,” Biden said in a statement, noting that without the certainty of a final vote to avoid a shutdown this week, railroads would have started to halt the movement of critical materials and deal a massive blow to the US economy.
US agricultural groups lobbied for government intervention in the dispute, contending the railway system is vital in the movement of grains to export markets. The prospect of a strike had been overhanging grain and oilseed futures the past several trading sessions amid concern that any slowdown in rail movement would result in grain backing up into the country and pressure basis levels.
Maintaining rail movement is considered even more critical now in ferrying grain to export positions, as low water levels in the Mississippi River are allowing less barge traffic.