President Joe Biden is After calling on Congress to act immediately to prevent a strike by more than 100,000 union members on the country’s freight rail line scheduled for the end of next week, the labor movement was applauded Tuesday from business interests. The unusual position of being attacked by his regular supporters.
The move was a serious setback for unions, arguing that they needed the right to strike to force railroad management to negotiate a key demand to give workers sick leave not in their current contracts. They say many railroad companies posted record profits last year. stronger profits and Able to meet union demands.
Biden said he was sympathetic to the union’s demands but said a rail strike would cause too much economic damage and must be avoided.
“I share the concerns of workers who are unable to take time off to recover from illness or care for sick family members,” he said in a statement. We shouldn’t have to choose between our own health and the health of our children.”
He said the interim deal, which had been rejected by rank-and-file members of the union, was a good deal for workers even in the face of those concerns. , which is the largest wage increase the union has earned in over 50 years. Biden noted that union leadership agreed to an interim deal when negotiations took place in September, which he said was a good deal for general members.
But four union memberships rejected the provisional deal. , Biden expressed sympathy for requests regarding sick time Tuesday left some union leaders unsatisfied.
“‘Share workers’ concerns’ is not enough,” said the Brotherhood of the Road Maintenance Department, the third largest railway union, representing some 23,000 track maintenance workers. the statement said. “Calling on Congress to act immediately to pass a bill adopting an interim agreement excluding paid sick leave ignores the concerns of railroad workers.”
Other union officials were also critical of Biden’s move to impose an unpopular contract. Asked by CNN if he felt Biden had let the union and its members down, Michael Baldwin, president of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalers, said, “To a degree, yes.”
“We’re trying to address the issue of sick time, which is very important,” Baldwin told CNN on Tuesday. “This action prevents us from reaching the end of the process and deprives us of the power and ability necessary to force negotiations and force the railroads to do the right thing.”
Baldwin said the union doesn’t want to strike, but it’s the only way to win a deal that will win the support of the general membership at the bargaining table.
He said that if there was a strike, it would be the responsibility of railroad management, not the unions.
“Railways have the ability to solve this problem. If they can get to the negotiating table and do it, we can move forward without parliamentary action,” he said.
He said it’s an issue that the railroad union has been trying to address for decades, but that it’s getting more attention from union members lately.
“This became a glaring problem during the pandemic when some members were forced to stay home and quarantine without pay by their employer, the railroad company,” he said. It comes down to something as simple as a day or two of the flu, or a sick child, and the ability to take a day or two off.”
While union leaders were unhappy with Biden, some rank-and-file members were even more angry.
“Joe Biden blew it. union activists who had campaigned against the ratification of the interim labor agreement: “Sadly he couldn’t bring himself to defend a handful of bad sick days.” Democrats and Republicans alike are big business and its minions.”
However, the bill to stop the workers’ strike had to pass with bipartisan support, so efforts to impose a more worker-friendly contract won the Republican votes needed to pass the Senate. It’s not clear if they did. .
While union leaders attacked Mr Biden, the business community said the strike would halt 30% of the country’s freight shipments and severely damage the economy. was praising
The strike, scheduled for December 9, will disrupt still-struggling supply chains, causing shortages and price spikes for gasoline, food, cars and other commodities that many are already concerned about. cause a blow to the economy. recession. A week-long strike could cost him $1 billion in damage to the economy, according to Anderson Economic Group estimates. The White House estimates that up to 765,000 workers could be temporarily out of work within two weeks if railroad workers went on strike.
More than 400 business groups turned out Monday to appeal to congressional leaders for swift action Monday. it was done. They all praised Biden’s actions and called them appropriate.
Mike Sommers, CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, a lobby group for the railroad-dependent oil industry, clashed with Mr. Biden last year over rising gasoline prices.
Biden and Democrats were reluctant to block a strike in September when negotiations were nearing the deadline for previous strikes. As the deadline for the next strike approached, they felt compelled to act.
Biden’s statement Monday night suggested that the railroad strategy had worked.
“During the ratification vote, the Secretary of Labor, Agriculture and Transportation has been in regular contact with labor leaders and management. I encourage you to call for action,” he said.
“As a proud worker’s president, I am reluctant to reverse the ratification process or the views of those who voted against the deal,” he said. “But in this case, I believe Congress must use its powers to adopt this deal because the economic impact of the shutdown could hurt millions of other workers and families. I believe.”
The fact that Congress moves toward enforcing the rejected provisional deal can be viewed as a limited victory for the union. Instead, Congress could have voted to impose contracts that were less favorable to workers than those rejected by union members.
Republicans in Congress, who introduced legislation to keep workers employed before the September strike deadline, were looking to impose worse contracts for union members. A mutually acceptable deal. The union was able to negotiate improvements to the proposal at the September negotiating table.
Meanwhile, unions are asking Congress to include sick leave in any contracts imposed on unions. They say it will be better for both workers and rail users, who have regularly complained about poor service that even rail companies admit to being inadequate.
“Passing a bill adopting an interim agreement excluding paid sick leave for railway workers will not solve the problem of railway services,” the BMWED statement said. “Rather, it will exacerbate supply chain problems and further harass, infuriate and disenfranchise rail workers as they continue to bear the burden of poor rail management. prize.”
But Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the only legislation that could pass a narrowly divided Congress in time to avoid a strike was the one that reflected the rejected interim agreement.
“Parts of Congress want to amend this deal to better either workers or managers,” Biden said in a statement. There is a risk.The agreement was reached in good faith by both sides.”