Second Railroad Union Says No to Biden
(ReliableNews.org) – On September 15, the Biden Administration announced the railroad companies and the unions representing the workers came to a “tentative” agreement. Railway personnel would receive better pay, healthcare options, and working conditions. As a result, the businesses would be able to keep their trained employees and have an easier time recruiting more talent to keep their companies alive. A strike would have been detrimental to the railways and the country. The benefit to the American people would have been the uninterrupted delivery of goods across the nation. Unfortunately, the measure was rejected by the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS).
The Voting Process and Result
The BRS bargained the deal on behalf of 115,000 rail workers. To accept the deal, the union members took a vote. Over 6,300 ballots went out, and 73.18% of them came back with an answer. Only 1,820 approved of the measure, and 2,810 voted against it. BRS President Michael Baldwin said this was the first time he could recall when the members of his group did not choose to “ratify a National Agreement.” However, he admitted he didn’t have a lot of faith during negotiations that both sides were acting in “good faith.”
Baldwin felt both the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC) and the presidential emergency board (PEB) didn’t properly consider the immense stress of the union workers’ jobs. The PEB offered to increase pay but didn’t address the pressing issue of sick leave, which weighs heavily on the minds of the union workers. Baldwin said BRS workers are essential to keeping the trains moving and the “supply chain flowing.”
Another railroad union, The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (BMWED), previously rejected the deal. There are 12 unions in all, and they would all have to agree to the deal in order for it to move forward. For now, all parties will have to return to the negotiation table.
White House Response
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addressed the issue with reporters during a briefing on October 26. When asked if the administration was worried about a possible strike, the secretary made it clear there was still plenty of time to work out a deal. She said the unions and employers already agreed to a “cooling-off period” that will extend about another month, so the economy and supply chain are in no immediate danger.
Although Jean-Pierre wouldn’t go so far as to say how involved President Joe Biden was in negotiating between the two sides, she did say the administration is there to support the efforts of both sides to come to an agreement. The secretary said no one wants a shutdown, and the government will do whatever is possible to ensure the rails keep moving.
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