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Tipsheet

Biden Steamrolls Unions, Asks Congress to Force Contract to Avert Rail Strike

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

In September, President Biden called his administration's work with railroad companies and a dozen unions to avert a nationwide rail strike a "win for America." That supposedly winning deal unraveled last week when America's largest rail union voted to reject the deal. And now, after Biden and the White House told contradicting tales about how involved the president was in the latest attempt to negotiate a deal, he's thrown in the towel and admitted defeat in his efforts that saw him ultimately botch another attempt at leadership. 

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In a statement on Monday evening, President Biden announced that he was "calling on Congress to pass legislation immediately to adopt the Tentative Agreement between railroad workers and operators – without any modifications or delay – to avert a potentially crippling national rail shutdown." 

The tentative agreement Biden mentioned is the one he took a victory lap for, but that members of the nation's largest rail union — along with a few additional smaller unions — voted to reject. That means that Biden is calling on Congress to enforce the agreement he spearheaded, despite the fact that union workers themselves don't want the deal in a move that significantly undermines the president's claims of supporting unions over the companies that employ workers. 

Biden said he was making the move based on the recommendations and advice from his cabinet — specifically his Secretaries of Transportation, Agriculture, and Labor — because they saw "that there is no path to resolve the dispute at the bargaining table." So much for Democrats' commitment to supporting collective bargaining, huh?

Still, Biden claimed in his statement that he remains "a proud pro-labor president" and said he is "reluctant to override the ratification procedures and the views of those who voted against the agreement." But to Biden, his politically opportunistic rhetoric supporting unions was trumped by his desire to save himself from bearing the blame for costing the U.S. economy $2 billion per day and bringing a major mode of transportation to a halt. 

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That is, Biden threw unions under the bus to save his own hide. He attempted to justify the anti-union move by saying "we cannot let our strongly held conviction for better outcomes for workers deny workers the benefits of the bargain they reached, and hurl this nation into a devastating rail freight shutdown." Apparently those "strongly held convictions" aren't stronger than the political cost of his "win for America" agreement being rejected by union members and causing a rail strike.

Biden urged Congress to resist any temptation to change the tentative agreement he wants enforced on the unions, either to favor the unions or the rail companies, saying "any changes would risk delay and a debilitating shutdown."

"Congress has the power to adopt the agreement and prevent a shutdown," the president said. "It should set aside politics and partisan division and deliver for the American people," he said. And what else could he say? His bragged-about but ultimately botched negotiations failed to seal the deal and now his already underwater approval as well as the already damaged health of the American economy hang in the balance, subject to Congress' decision in the matter.

In addition to being another example of Biden's failed leadership, the situation is yet another reversal for Biden. As Townhall reported earlier on Monday, the White House and Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre really did not want to talk about then-Senator Biden's position in 1992, the last time Congress was called on to intervene in order to prevent a rail strike. Back then, Biden was one of only six U.S. senators who voted against forcing a deal to resolve the labor dispute between railroad companies and rail unions, objecting to the intervention because it gives preference to the rail companies over the interests of their workers' unions. 

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This is a developing story and may be updated.

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