Published December 1, 2022
President Biden wants the Senate to quickly approve legislation that would avert a national strike among railway workers in early December. But senators should be wary about enforcing a deal that both management and labor have not agreed to.
Congress cannot typically force a contract on a specific set of workers and companies, but the railway industry is different from most sectors in that it can hold the rest of the economy hostage. That’s why lawmakers passed the Railway Labor Act in 1926, which allowed Congress to impose binding contracts on unionized railways.
Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, studies and provides commentary on American politics. His work focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges, from the left and the right. He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world.