News ID: 109702
Publish Date : 03 December 2022 - 21:46

U.S. Rail Labor Union Angered by ‘One-Two Punch’ From Politicians

WASHINGTON (Xinhua/AFP) – Railroad Workers United (RWU) has expressed anger at both major parties of the United States.
U.S. President Joe Biden signed a measure earlier Friday implementing a labor agreement between freight rail carriers and unionized workers that his administration brokered this fall.
Congress cleared the bill on Thursday but the Senate rejected an amendment to grant seven days of paid sick leave to rail workers.
“A second defeat” was delivered by Republicans, most of whom refused to support a mandate that all railroad workers receive seven days of paid sick leave.
In a press release on Friday, the labor union said that it “finds it despicable -- but not surprising -- that both political parties opted to side with Big Business over working people yesterday and vote against the interests of railroad workers -- not once, but twice, within hours.”
“We suffered a one-two punch at the hands of, first the Democratic Party; the second served up by the Republicans,” the union wrote.
The majority of U.S. freight rail workers, said the union, had voted to reject the labor agreement that the Biden administration and Democrats backed. However, lawmakers “simply overrode our voices and desires.”
“This one-two punch from the two political parties is despicable,” RWU General Secretary Jason Doering said in a statement.
“Politicians are happy to voice platitudes and heap praise upon us for our heroism throughout the pandemic, the essential nature of our work, the difficult and dangerous and demanding conditions of our jobs,” Doering stressed. “Yet when the steel hits the rail, they back the powerful and wealthy Class One rail carriers every time.”
Rail workers previously threatened to strike across the United States if they failed to reach a labor agreement by Dec. 9.
As he signed the bill, Biden said Congress had “avoided what, without a doubt, would have been an economic catastrophe.”
“Without freight rail, many of the U.S. industries would literally have shut down,” Biden said, adding that his advisors feared the loss of three-quarters of a million jobs within two weeks if the strike had gone ahead.
The episode was awkward politically for Biden.
Trade unions constitute a major element in his electoral coalition and he frequently describes himself as a lifelong union supporter and the “most pro-union president” in history.
That brand has taken a hit from the emergency bill signing, with some on the left accusing Biden of having sold out. After the Senate came down decisively in favor of the rail management, one union leader called the situation “horrific.”