The Biden administration has again shown its pro-union agenda by pressuring the railroad companies to improve upon their offer to their workers and avert could have been an economic disastrous strike. What’s amazing about this entire thing is that issue is that the companies refuse to provide even unpaid sick leave to workers. They simply force workers to labor through illness or anything else with significant negative consequences to workers if they actually take time off. It’s absolutely ridiculous. The rail companies have already reduced the number of workers on a train to two and it wanted to reduce that to one. That’s insanely irresponsible because of safety reasons, to workers and to anyone else along train tracks. But it’s all about profit, even at a time when the rail companies are raking in money hand over foot.
The agreed upon deal does solve some of these problems. The number of workers on the trains stays at two. Workers would now get all of one paid sick leave day per year and more unpaid days. There are still some details that aren’t quite clear as well. The money was never really an issue–they are getting a huge pay raise but that was already agreed upon. This was about working conditions and schedule flexibility.
Workers do have to accept this and those rail workers include many Republican voters, so I don’t know that they will look at the deal and want to thank Biden and then get into their trucks with their “Let’s Go Brandon” stickers. But I think the pressure from the administration combined with the reality that Biden got them a lot more than they had before will see this through, if by narrow votes. We will see though.
I’d also like to give Bernie Sanders a shout-out. Republicans, seeking to stop any strike, tried to force through a voice vote forcing everyone to accept the results of the Presidential Mediation Board. Sanders refused to agree. At least on Twitter, some of our dumber Dems, the type that blame him for Hillary losing (or “losing”) in 2016, attacked him for this, saying he was sacrificing Democrats chances in November. This is fantastically stupid. The point of governing is to do good things, not to just continue in power for no reason. Among those who weren’t real thrilled with the decision by the Board was Joe Biden himself. So it’s not as if Bernie went out on a huge limb here, but he did put the principle above the craven politicking. Good for him.
The biggest takeaway here though is that Biden took his mediator’s recommendations, heard the workers that it wasn’t enough, and used all his power to pressure the companies to cave on some of the issues. That is not a common move and it once again shows that he really does care about unions and that improving the lives of union workers is central to Biden’s agenda. It’s really quite impressive.