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.
Marquette’s Iron Ore Dock, or also known as the Presque Isle Dock, is a critical spot for the local economy. That’s where roughly ten million tons of ore are shipped from this dock to other places and the ore gets to that dock via the rail cars. So, a potential rail strike could impact the local economy.
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 UP.
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 congressman, Representative Jack Bergman (R- MI) voted ‘no’ on both measures. We reached out to his office for a comment on this but have not heard back. Both measures now head to the Senate. It’s unclear which way the Senate will vote on both pieces of legislation.