Reid, Mica file resolutions to prevent freight rail strike

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The resolutions introduced Thursday by Reid (S.J. 30 and S.J. 31) would extend time for negotiations, which has been referred to as a "cooling off period," until Feb. 8, 2012. Mica's resolution (H.J. 91) would force the sides to accept recommendations from the Presidential Emergency Board that were made in November through 2014.

At issue is a stalemate between several of the unions that represent parts of the freight rail industry and a group of railroad companies. Most of the unions agreed earlier this month to extend the “cooling-off period” for negotiations, but two of the 13 unions, the American Train Dispatchers Association and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, have not accepted the terms of the deal.

A third union, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, agreed to the deal with the railroads, which are being represented by the National Carriers' Conference Committee of the National Railway Labor Conference. The committee does not consider its acceptance valid without the agreement of the other two unions.

A Democratic Senate aide said that Reid was "confident we can get this resolved through working with the parties," while Mica's resolution said, "Congress, under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, has the authority and responsibility to ensure the uninterrupted operation of essential transportation services."