So often we must recognize that a president is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. That is what has occurred through President Biden’s push for legislative imposition of a new contract on rail workers, an action for which he is being condemned by some union officials and members (“Senate approves bill to avert rail strike by imposing labor deal on workers,” Web, Dec. 1).
To their great credit, the president and a massive number of Republicans and Democrats in Congress foresaw the grave consequences to which the country would be subjected if a rail strike were to occur. (That’s what would likely have happened had it not been for government involvement.) Hundreds of thousands of jobs would quickly be lost, shortages of products would ensue just before Christmas, potentially including gasoline, and the economy would sustain a hit of at least $2 billion a day. This would be untenable.
Rail workers deserve a fair and lucrative contract. They did not get everything they wanted in negotiations, but they received large raises and benefit enhancements. No doubt rail company owners do not feel that all of their goals were achieved, either. The agreement was approved by some rail unions, voted down by others.
Involving himself in forcing a labor agreement on unions and their members was surely a tough call for a pro-labor, pro-union president. But it was the right one.
Peters Township, Pennsylvania