Greater than 70 lawmakers ship letter calling on Biden to grant rail staff seven sick days

Greater than 70 Home and Senate members despatched a letter to President Biden on Friday to induce him to do every little thing he can to ensure rail staff have seven days of paid sick go away. 

The lawmakers thanked Biden for his position in negotiating an settlement between freight rail carriers and unionized rail staff to keep away from a strike that might have occurred Friday, which may have paralyzed provide chains and considerably harmed the nationwide economic system. 

They mentioned whereas the settlement is a lot better than the preliminary proposals that the rail business put out, it doesn’t embrace any paid sick days for the employees who’ve troublesome and harmful jobs and who “have risked their lives throughout the pandemic to maintain our economic system transferring.” 

The deal, which Congress accredited and Biden signed final week, offers rail staff with a 24 % improve of their wages over the course of 5 years and makes it simpler for them to overlook time for medical appointments however doesn’t embrace paid time without work for them to recuperate from an sickness or look after a member of the family. 

A separate proposal so as to add seven paid days of sick go away for staff handed the Home however failed within the Senate. 

A number of Democrats within the Senate voted in opposition to the settlement when it got here up for a vote as a result of it didn’t embrace a provision for the paid sick go away, however the Senate did overwhelmingly move it 80-15. Biden has mentioned he helps offering the rail staff with the paid sick go away however wished it to be a separate invoice from the settlement to make sure an settlement may move and a strike may very well be prevented. 

The Congress members mentioned within the letter that guaranteeing the paid sick go away would value the rail business $321 million, which is lower than 2 % of their annual earnings. 

“If the rail business can afford to spend $25.5 billion in inventory buybacks and dividends to complement their rich shareholders, they will afford to deal with their staff with the respect and the dignity that they deserve,” they mentioned. 

The lawmakers mentioned Biden ought to increase on an govt order from former President Obama that established paid sick go away for federal contractors however not together with rail staff. In addition they mentioned Labor Secretary Marty Walsh has the authority to set obligatory occupational security and well being requirements for companies affecting interstate commerce below the Occupational Security and Well being Act. 

They mentioned Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has a duty to advertise security in all areas of railroad operations, cut back railroad-related accidents and cut back deaths, accidents and damages brought on by rail carriers. 

“Guaranteeing that staff will not be working trains or inspecting rail indicators whereas sick or drained would basically enhance the security of our nationwide rail operations,” they mentioned. 

“Over 115,000 rail staff on this nation need to you to ensure them the dignity at work they deserve and to make sure that our rail system is secure for its staff and for thousands and thousands of People who cross rail tracks daily,” they added.