The nation’s third-largest railroad worker union on Tuesday said it is “deeply disappointed” in President Biden’s call for Congress to prevent a freight rail strike, saying the move could result in Democrats siding with “robber baron railroads” instead of supporting union households.
The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (BMWED) said the move by Mr. Biden, who bills himself as the most pro-union president in history, could force unions to work under a new agreement that does not include paid sick days.
“It both denies railroad workers their right to strike while also denying them of the benefit they would likely otherwise obtain if they were not denied their right to strike,” the union said of Mr. Biden’s move. “It is not enough to share workers’ concerns.”
The president, facing a rail strike next week that could cost the U.S. economy about $2 billion per day, urged Congress on Monday to pass legislation to impose the terms of a tentative labor agreement ratified by some of the dozen railroad unions. But four of the unions have rejected the contract, and a walkout by any of the labor unions would be honored by all of them, idling more than 100,000 workers.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Democrat-controlled House will vote this week on legislation to impose the rail agreement. Some Democrats predict the Senate will follow suit.
The unpopular move with unions could create a rift with Democrats’ labor base heading into the 2024 presidential election. BMWED urged Mr. Biden “and any member of Congress that truly supports the working class” to ensure that regulations provide paid sick leave for all railroad workers.
Paid sick leave has been a major sticking point in the negotiations. The agreement would give union members an immediate 14% raise with back pay dating to 2020. It also would provide raises totaling 24% during the five-year contract through 2024 and cash bonuses of $1,000 per year.