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Tipsheet

Remember That Railroad Strike Biden Supposedly Averted? Well...

David Duprey

As Townhall covered last month, months of negotiations between America's railroad companies and rail unions ran until the eleventh hour and narrowly averted a massive, economy-crippling strike at the time, a supposedly positive resolution that the Biden administration sought to take credit for after intervening to force a tentative agreement. 

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Declaring victory for his administration in the matter — despite the fact that rail worker unions still hadn't voted to approve the latest agreement — Biden said that the near-shutdown of America's railways was "validation" that "unions and management can work together for the benefit of everyone."

In his September remarks, Biden also claimed the tentative contract agreement was a "win for America" to go along with what Biden claimed are other "signs of progress in lowering costs" that have come through his administration's work to "rebuild a better America."

All that bluster over a tentative agreement that delayed the strike at the time, as Vespa pointed out earlier, did not mean that a strike was entirely averted. Now, weeks since Biden bragged about the greatness of unions and his administration's negotiating prowess, a strike is back on the table and looming as a greater threat by the day. 

On Monday, members of America's third-largest rail union voted against the negotiated contract. For those who remember this song and dance from September, all 12 unions agreed to strike in solidarity unless every union agreed to a deal. This time around, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division has said its workers will stay on the job until "five days after Congress reconvenes in mid November," but their vote against a deal means the risk of a strike has been renewed again, sending parties back to the negotiating table. 

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According to a report from AP:

Over half of track maintenance workers represented by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division who voted opposed the five-year contract despite 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses. Union President Tony Cardwell said the railroads didn’t do enough to address the lack of paid time off — particularly sick time — and working conditions after the major railroads eliminated nearly one-third of their jobs over the past six years.

“Railroaders are discouraged and upset with working conditions and compensation and hold their employer in low regard. Railroaders do not feel valued,” Cardwell said in a statement. “They resent the fact that management holds no regard for their quality of life, illustrated by their stubborn reluctance to provide a higher quantity of paid time off, especially for sickness.”

The group that represents the railroads in negotiations said they were disappointed the union rejected the agreement, but emphasized that no immediate threat of a strike exists because the union agreed to keep working for now.

So, the clock Biden saw run down to its last 24 hours to avert a strike in September has been reset to roughly one month from now — running through November's midterms — until another scramble to avert a strike will seemingly be imminent. 

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All this despite Biden's bragging that the mayhem in September that saw Amtrak cancel its long haul routes as a precaution and freight lines stop shipments of certain critical goods, realities that could again set in as all 12 unions prepare to walk off the job if a deal can't be reached to resolve all workers' concerns. 

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