Biden Hands the Ball to Congress to Avoid Railroad Strike
(UnitedVoice.com) – In September, President Joe Biden stood in the Rose Garden patting himself on the back for his tentative railway labor agreement. Yet, the deal wasn’t quite good enough for rail workers. Two of the largest unions, representing over half of all rail workers, said no. With a December 9 deadline for a deal to avoid a strike, passing the buck became the president’s only move.
On November 28, Biden formally asked Congress to draft the tentative agreement “without any modifications or delay” into legislation. The move would force the remaining rail unions into the package, but more importantly, it would avert shutting down 7,000 freight trains, a move the POTUS believes would cripple the country.
Congress prepares to avert a massive railroad strike https://t.co/sJravlaZU5
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) November 30, 2022
The labor agreement issue comes down to sick time for workers. Both the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the SMART Transportation Division want provisions for increasing quality of life. Specifically, strict attendance policies mean workers can’t take personal or sick time, lest they risk termination. Shortly before Biden’s triumphant Rose Garden speech, a labor spokesman told CNBC that without addressing harsh rules and offering sick and vacation leave, there would be no deal.
Biden’s plea to Congress again ignores the plight of the workers, citing no path to a bargain at the negotiating table. The supposedly pro-union, pro-rail president admits that a rail shutdown would cripple the American economy, stifling supply lines and shuttering manufacturers.
The House passed legislation on Wednesday in a 290 to 137 vote to push through the tentative agreement. In a separate vote, the House passed a provision increasing the number of sick days allowed from one to seven.
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