President Joe Biden is urging Congress to adopt legislation requiring train unions to accept contract conditions that do not fully satisfy their requests in order to avoid a railroad strike.
However, rail employees are not pleased.
What is Biden up to?
Biden encouraged Congress on Monday to utilize its authority under the Railway Labor Act of 1926 to prohibit train workers from striking, which would create severe economic disruptions.
Biden wants employees to accept a labor deal negotiated by the White House in September.
However, other unions have rejected it since then since it does not address their most pressing concerns: paid time off and sick leave. The contract has been rejected by four rail unions out of twelve, representing the bulk of unionized rail workers. To avoid a strike, all 12 unions would have to agree to the contract’s stipulations. This is due to the unions’ agreement not to cross picket lines.
Rail workers will go on strike on December 9 unless Congress intervenes or a compromise is reached.
How did unions react?
Unions accuse Biden, who has described himself as “the greatest pro-union president in American history,” of abandoning his commitment to unions.
“The Initial Agreements that most union members voted against are now being praised by President Biden, despite the fact that none of them contain any sick leave whatsoever,” stated Railroad Workers United’s Gabe Christenson.
“The ‘most labor-friendly President in American history has demonstrated that Obama and the Democratic Party are not the labor allies they claim to be,” he said. “For decades, these wolves in sheep’s clothing have been in bed with corporate America, allowing them to continue chipping away at the American middle class and organized labor.”
Furthermore, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division emphasized in a statement that “sharing workers’ concerns” is insufficient, especially if he insists that Congress disregard them.
“A demand for Congress to act quickly to enact legislation adopting preliminary agreements that omit paid sick leave dismisses the Railroad Workers’ concerns. It both denies railroad workers their right to strike while simultaneously depriving them the benefit they would have received if their right to strike had not been rejected,” According to the group.
Is there anything else?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday that the House will vote on legislation requiring unions to accept the conditions of the labor contract.
Still, the White House is being dishonest about the issue. On Tuesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called a strike “inappropriate” and stated that the unions who have not agreed to the deal are unreasonable because “eight of the 12 unions voted to approve this provisional agreement.”
“That’s a union majority,” she stated.
What she did not say is that the four unions that have rejected the accord represent the vast majority of unionized rail workers.