In an ongoing battle between railway workers and their employers over paid sick days, President Joe Biden has seemingly passed the burden of responsibility to broker a deal between the two onto Congress following an unsuccessful attempt at negotiations in September. Officials have warned of the serious economic consequences of a rail strike that would be set to occur just before the holiday season.
Charlie Spiering; November 29, 2022
President Joe Biden on Monday asked Congress to pass legislation to reach an agreement between railroad workers and management after he failed to reach an agreement.
“I am calling on Congress to pass legislation immediately to adopt the Tentative Agreement between railroad workers and operators – without any modifications or delay – to avert a potentially crippling national rail shutdown,” Biden wrote in a statement issued by the White House.
Biden admitted in the statement his advisors and cabinet officials believed there was “no path to resolve the dispute at the bargaining table,” despite his and his administration’s best efforts.
Nearly 7,000 freight trains could be idled by December 9th if an agreement is not reached, costing businesses up to $2 billion per day.
The president made a big display in September after he reached a tentative deal to avoid a strike right before the 2021 midterm elections.
“Today is a win — and I mean it sincerely — a win for America,” he said triumphantly on September 15 in a speech in the Rose Garden, promoting his skills as a dealmaker.
The president prides himself in being a supporter of rail workers and trains after he spent his entire political career traveling on Amtrak trains back and forth from his home in Delaware to Washington, DC.
Rail workers are demanding paid sick days as part of their new agreement, but Biden urged Congress to act to settle the dispute, warning of serious economic consequences.
“Let me be clear: a rail shutdown would devastate our economy. Without freight rail, many U.S. industries would shut down,” Biden said.
He tried to excuse his call for emergency measures, by saying he was “reluctant” to ask Congress to settle the labor dispute as he was a “proud pro-labor president.”
Leftist members of Congress have repeatedly condemned railway companies for failing to negotiate with workers to give them paid time off.
“The greed of the rail industry must end,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wrote on social media, calling out billionaire railway owners like Warren Buffet for making huge profits and not passing them down to workers.