Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted to impose a contract on union rail workers. In a separate vote, 43 senators — one Democrat, all others Republican — voted to deny paid sick days to more than 100,000 rail employees.
Over the course of the past three years, the nation’s rail workers have bargained in good faith with the large Class I railroads. During this time, these workers have kept the economy running, safeguarded the flow of commerce, and ensured that critical goods reach every corner of the country. The rail carriers have made massive profits, yet at every stage of the bargaining process, they have fought to deny rail workers fair wage increases and badly needed quality of life improvements.
“The fact that there are not 60 senators willing to stand up to Big Business and fight for basic rights for U.S. rail workers is horrific,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien. “Rail carriers make record profits. Rail workers get zero paid sick days. Paid sick leave is a basic human right. This system is failing. But this fight is not over. It’s just begun.”
Before the votes in the Senate, the Teamsters were encouraged by actions in the U.S. House to support paid sick days. While all but one member of the Senate Democratic Caucus supported this measure, it was not enough to ensure Congress would collectively stand up for rail workers.
More must be done to address the mistreatment and disregard of the people who keep America’s supply chain moving. The Teamsters will continue to fight for rail members and their families, stand up to corporate greed, and demand dignity and basic human rights for all workers.