Railroad union workers fume at Biden ahead of congressional vote to prevent strike

Four of the 12 rail unions, including the largest one, have voted against the terms on which the House will soon vote.

Updated: November 29, 2022 - 10:09pm

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Railroad union workers on Tuesday raged against President Joe Biden for declining to advocate that Congress amend their contract in a favorable manner ahead of a vote that could force them to accept a lesser deal.

"Unfortunately, the 'most labor-friendly president' has opted to side with Big Business and call for a thwarting of railroad workers' right to strike," Railroad Workers United wrote in a press release. "On Monday, President Joe Biden called upon Congress to adopt legislation that would mandate a contract and end the threat of any legally sanctioned rail strike from happening."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the lower chamber would vote on a bill on Wednesday to force the labor unions to accept terms and avoid a major strike. The Railway Labor Act of 1926 gives Congress the authority to intervene in the matter and impose terms on the unions. The House vote, should it succeed, would impose terms that several of the major rail unions have already rejected.

"Joe Biden blew it," Railroad Workers United Treasurer Hugh Sawyer declared. "He had the opportunity to prove his labor-friendly pedigree to millions of workers by simply asking Congress for legislation to end the threat of a national strike on terms more favorable to workers. Sadly, he could not bring himself to advocate for a lousy handful of sick days. The Democrats and Republicans are both pawns of big business and the corporations."

Four of the 12 rail unions, including the largest one, have voted against the terms on which the House will soon vote. Should any one of the 12 refuse the terms, the members of all 12 are bound to back them and not cross any picket lines. Accordingly, congressional intervention is the only way at present to avoid a national strike.

Should a strike occur, it could have adverse effects on the U.S. economy and even public health. New York City, for example, uses the nation's railroad network to transport the 2.4 million pounds of human feces the city's residents produce each day to landfills. If those trains stop running, the city would have to contend with a potential public health disaster as it lacks the means to deal with such a buildup of raw sewage.