Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Quote of the Day

We could have seen [President] Biden actually opt for telling Congress to pass legislation that mediates an end to the conflict under more favorable terms to the workers, which is to say [giving them] a handful of sick days.

And that’s what this has come down to. Railroad workers traditionally have had no sick time. And now with the very, very harsh attendance policies that we’re faced with, railroad workers get very, very little time off work. And it has come to a crunch point. We’re seeing workers leaving the industry in droves, in numbers never, ever believed possible. . . . There’s a crisis out there. And I don’t believe the Biden administration quite understands the depth of this crisis.

I don’t think they understand that they could have actually taken an approach that would have benefited rail labor, and potentially benefited the rail industry itself. Instead, the president is urging Congress to basically legislate an agreement based upon what he brokered two months ago. But the rank and file had made it very clear that they are not content with this contract that simply does not address the quality-of-work-life issues.

And now we come down to the wire in contract negotiations, where literally what separates the parties is a handful of sick time, sick time that most workers actually have achieved decades and decades ago, but railroad workers have traditionally gone without. And we finally have said enough is enough. We want a handful of sick days. And yet the rail carriers see fit to dig in their heels, these Fortune 500 companies who have made record profits these last 25 years, and refuse to give us anything. And unfortunately, the Biden administration is incapable of siding unequivocally with us. [As a “proud pro-labor President,” in Biden’s own words], we would have expected that from him.

Ron Kaminkow
Locomotive engineer and organizer for Railroad Workers United
Excerpted from “Biden Sides with Big Business and
Urges Congress to Block Major Freight Rail Strike

Democracy Now!
November 29, 2022

Related Off-site Links:
Rail Workers Are Demanding Better Work Conditions and a Strike Could Be Imminent – Kai McNamee, Ashley Brown, and Mary Louise Kelly (NPR News, November 29, 2022).
“Every Worker Deserves Paid Sick Leave”: Progressives Rally Behind Rail Workers – Sharon Zhang (TruthOut, November 29, 2022).
Sen. Bernie Sanders Vows to “Stand With Rail Workers” as Republican Says Congress Will Prevent Strike – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, November 28, 2022).
“All of Rail Labor Is Going to Suffer”: Workers Furious Over Biden Move to Preempt Strike – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, November 29, 2022).
Progressives in Congress Begin to Push Back Against Biden Betrayal of Rail Workers – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, November 29, 2022).

UPDATES: “Enough Is Enough”: Rail Workers Decry Biden’s Push to Impose Strike-Breaking Labor DealDemocracy Now! (November 30, 2022).
As Corporations Enjoy Record-High Profits, Experts Urge Congress to “Rein Them In” – Brett Wilkins (Common Dreams, November 30, 2022).
“Put Up or Shut Up,” Says Sanders as Progressives Move to Add 7 Sick Days to Railway Deal – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, November 30, 2022).
House Passes Paid Sick Leave for Railway Workers Despite Opposition of 207 Republicans – Kenny Stancil (Common Dreams, November 30, 2022).
Why Is “Pro-Union” President Biden Pushing a Labor Deal That Rail Workers Rejected? – Jeff Schuhrke (In These Times, December 1, 2022).
Putting “Profits Over People,” Senate Rejects Paid Sick Leave for Rail Workers – Brett Wilkins (Common Dreams, December 1, 2022).
Senate Blocks Sick Leave Plan, Imposes Rail Contract in Plainly Anti-Union Move – Sharon Zhang (TruthOut, December 1, 2022).
Biden Signs Legislation to Avert Crisis of Treating Rail Workers Like HumansThe Onion (Satire) (December 2, 2022).
U.S. Railroad Investor Resolutions Urge Paid Sick Leave For Workers – Ross Kerber (Reuters, December 5, 2022).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Show of Solidarity for Workers’ Rights in Wisconsin and Beyond
Across America, “the Giant is Awake”
A Labor Day Prayer
Where Did All the Money Go?
Jonah Walters: Quote of the Day – September 5, 2016
Rocking the Cradle of Power
Something to Think About – September 3, 2013
Just Wondering

Image: Supporters of rail workers demonstrate outside the United States Congress in Washington, D.C. on November 29, 2022. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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