Apr 1, 2021 – Unions built the middle class. It’s about time they start to get a piece of the action,” Biden said. Biden said his proposals will create millions of jobs — “good-paying jobs.” He said it will “ensure free and fair choice” for workers to organize and bargain collectively,” provisions found in the Democrats’ “Protecting the Right to Organize …
Ben Burgis Fri, December 2, 2022 at 4:57 AM·6 min read
And now he and his party are making a mockery of both claims. Biden brokered a deal between unions and rail companies that was unacceptable to the workers. They voted it down. Now, instead of respecting the results of a democratic election, Biden asked Congress to use the power of the federal government to force workers to accept the deal. The measure flew through Congress, passing the House on Wednesday and the Senate on Thursday.
The right to go on strike is a foundational right for workers in a free society. If the companies don’t want the rail workers to exercise that right, they should offer them a better deal. Instead, our “pro-labor” president, echoing an argument previously made by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says that the risk of economic disruption is too great to respect the workers’ democratic decision.
The House voted to add an amendment to grant one of the workers’ key demands—seven annual sick days, but the amendment failed in the Senate. Perhaps it would have failed even if it had received President Biden’s enthusiastic support, but that support wasn’t forthcoming.
Echoing what Biden said in his original statement, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reiterated after the House vote on the amendment that the president “does not support any bill, or amendment, that will delay getting this bill to his desk by this Saturday.”
The current contract guarantees exactly zero days of sick leave, never mind paid vacation, and some of the companies have extremely punitive policies for taking days off for any reason. For example, Jacobin’s Luke Savage reports that at Warren Buffet’s rail company BNSF, “workers are allotted a point balance that diminishes if they’re unavailable for work—even in cases of illness or emergency.” Workers who reach a zero balance once are suspended, and terminated if it happens again.