WASHINGTON — Iowa Senator Joni Ernst has voted to block a strike by railroad workers and impose the labor agreement negotiated at the White House in September, but Ernst says she would have preferred to “keep congress out of it.”
Ernst, a Republican, says President Biden “could and should have done more to ensure a fair deal” for employees, including her brother, who works for a railroad. Eight unions approved the contract offer, but four unions representing tens of thousands of rail workers rejected it.
Ernst says workers have “valid concerns regarding quality of life and attendance policies” that are not addressed in the contract and negotiations should have restarted. However, Ernst says a strike would have been “catastrophic” for the economy, so she voted to block the strike.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley also voted to intervene in the labor dispute and prevent a strike. Both Grassley and Ernst voted against a proposal to force the railroads to provide seven days of sick leave to employees. It got just 43 “yes” votes in the Senate.
The House voted Wednesday night to avert the rail strike, which could have started next week.