“Without IBEW, I wouldn’t be standing here,” Biden said, adding that the workforce could also be pivotal in Georgia’s election.
A short drive away, dozens of protesters, angry at Biden’s pressure to intervene in Congress to stop the railroad union strike, chanted, “If we don’t have the right to strike, They held placards that read, “Workers have no union rights.” They were organized by the American Democratic Socialists.
After lobbying Congress to end costly union strikes in the height of the holiday season, the self-proclaimed “most pro-union president in U.S. history” is now the biggest supporter of organized labor. It puts you in the awkward position of having to strengthen your image.
The rail contracts in force give workers more flexibility in getting higher wages and a doctor’s appointment and a day’s paid personal leave, but no dedicated paid leave for illnesses contested by rail workers. There is none. But some trade unions in the broader labor movement are frustrated that the deal didn’t work out.
Sarah Nelson, president of the largest flight attendants union, which faces similar strike limits to railroad workers, said: “Forcing people to work under conditions they have not agreed to is probably unconstitutional and unconstitutional. “Congress could have chosen to respect the collective bargaining process and settle the matter with a rail strike before intervening.”
A rail strike threatened to pose high stakes for the White House. Railroad industry groups have estimated the strike cost him $2 billion a day, jeopardizing travel, vital supplies and commerce during the busy holiday season.
Government officials are aware that some union members are unhappy with the president’s decision to intervene in the strike, but it could have devastating effects on working Americans, including union members. The official added that President Biden regularly stops by union halls and other labor events during his campaign.
“This is not president vs. workers, nor president vs. strikes,” said Celeste Drake, Biden’s chief labor adviser. “This was a president who supported all of America against railroad closures. Because sometimes you see bread lined up on the shelf, the president will in the long run maintain his reputation as the most pro-union president ever and serve all working Americans. I promised to secure paid vacation for people.”
Meanwhile, Biden has scored other victories for the union, including taking command of the highly pro-worker National Labor Relations Commission and passing a law he claims will create high-paying union jobs.
Senate Adopts Deal to Block Rail Strike, Sends It to Biden
But the White House intervention caused tension In a way that even Biden seems to acknowledge, in Biden’s relationship with the labor movement. Outside a state dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday night, Biden visibly pissed him off when reporters asked whether rail workers should be given paid sick leave. I said, I negotiated a contract that no one else could negotiate. ”
In the bill signed Friday morning, Biden said enacting the deal was “hard for me” but necessary to avoid a “catastrophe”. When asked when he should expect a vacation, he said, “As soon as I can convince Republicans to see the light.”
Biden said most of the railroad unions (8 out of 12) agreed to the deal. Other Democrats also joined Biden in denouncing Republicans in Congress who opposed the inclusion of seven days of paid sick leave in the deal.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Thursday night on MSNBC: “If you can’t vote for this, and you can’t guarantee today’s workers, paid sick leave for the really hard, dangerous jobs, then know you’re supporting the workers’ families. Please don’t tell anyone.”
However, many railroad workers, despite their professed loyalty to labor, feel betrayed by a president and Democratic lawmakers who see them as bowing to the interests of a powerful freight railroad.
“Biden wants us to have a short memory,” said Beau Trego, who has worked as a conductor for 17 years. “This shows that big business is more important to him than the plight of workers. That’s for sure.”
Outside the railroad industry, union workers accused Biden of hypocrisy. Many of the unionized Starbucks baristas, many of whom are young liberals in the U.S. labor movement’s spotlight this year, said they were outraged.
press. Biden forcing railroad workers to accept a deal they voted against is a betrayal of the working class people. Denying workers paid sick leave and siding with their bosses to stop a strike is not advocating for workers. https://t.co/k9O1VLM9rM
— Starbucks Workers United (@SBWorkersUnited) November 29, 2022
Maggie Carter, a 28-year-old barista at a union-affiliated Starbucks in Knoxville, Tennessee, said Biden stood out among fellow union members after he directed Congress to impose the deal. said his sincerity was questioned.
“Honestly, I’m really pissed off,” Carter said. “We cast a lot of votes to vote for this president for a reason. Can I vote for
Christian Smalls, president of Amazon’s first union, formed in Staten Island earlier this year, met with President Biden in the Oval Office in May after receiving an invitation from a young union activist. But Smalls has been following rail news closely and is also upset by the White House’s decision to intervene to avoid a strike, he said.
“It’s a shame for the working class that a government that claims to be the most pro-worker doesn’t side with the general unions,” Smalls said. “It’s an even bigger shame that the threat of a strike was more than seven sick days for her being a breadcrumb.”
Still, according to two union leaders who spoke on condition of anonymity to share their inner sentiments, some union members are particularly skeptical that the president will have to choose between economic disaster and union membership. Some of the major railroad unions have faced very difficult and close competition among their members when it comes to approving deals.
But AFL-CIO leader Liz Shuler said paid sick leave should always be front and center on policymakers’ agendas.
“Today, railroad workers have gotten huge pay increases and other important benefits, but 43 senators have sided with the multi-billion dollar railroad companies to provide them with much-needed paid pay. It is very disappointing that we blocked sick leave,” Schuller said. “The labor movement will continue to mobilize and push forward until every railroad worker, and every worker in America, has the paid sick leave they need and deserve.”