SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) – President Joe Biden is urging the Senate to take action to avoid a rail strike. It comes as the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to block more than 100,000 rail workers from walking off the job next week.
The U.S. Senate is now under pressure to stop a rail strike threatening to cut off a major artery in the country's supply chain.
According to experts, Michigan's auto and agriculture industries would be hit hardest.
"It would be devastated due to a state economy that is already facing economic headwinds. You have sincere inflationary costs around gas and oil prices," Michael Alaimo, director of environmental and energy affairs at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.
With a Dec. 9 deadline looming, the House voted Wednesday to pass a tentative agreement that four of the 12 unions representing rail workers have previously rejected.
House lawmakers also passed an amendment regarding a sticking point during talks, adding seven days of paid sick leave.
If the Senate doesn't act soon, some railroad companies may start prepping for a strike as early as Monday since chemicals can't be transported 96 hours before a shutdown.
"Chemical products are in everyday consumer items; think shampoos, think iPhones. So you know, this would immediately have a cascading effect throughout the economy," Alaimo said.
The Anderson Economic Group in East Lansing believes the strike would cost the county about $60 million on the first day.
"By day six and seven, we're estimating upwards of $110 million a day," Tyler Theile, vice president and director of public policy at the Anderson Economic Group, said.
The potential strike is coming amid the holiday shopping season.
"When we talk about lack of inventory in demand, products not being shipped on a normal timeline. It could mean lean holidays for retailers of various sizes, whether they're online or brick and mortar," Theile said.
Analysts are cautiously optimistic lawmakers will help avert the strike.
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