A railroad union worker criticized President Joe Biden over the legislation Congress passed to prevent a strike Friday, saying the president “forced” a rejected contract on workers.
The Senate voted Thursday to pass the legislation to avert a strike by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (BMWED) of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and three other railway unions that rejected the September deal brokered by President Joe Biden.
The House of Representatives passed a similar bill Wednesday.
“Well, what we’ve seen with this great rail strike of ’22 that has ended very undramatically is we’ve seen unionized workers right to bargain collectively get trampled on, their voice has not been heard, they voted against the contract,” Reece Murtagh, a roadway worker, told “CNN This Morning” co-host Kaitlan Collins. “We have a pro-labor president who loves to, you know, pat himself on the back for that, and when the going got tough, he turned his back on the people he’s supposed to be looking out for.”
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The deal gave railway workers a 24% pay raise over five years and a $1,000 annual bonus according to a joint statement by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and SMART Transportation Division unions, but did not address what one union leader called “quality of life” issues. Murtagh, though, said his problem was not about the failure to get paid sick leave.
“The main attraction here is Joe Biden forced a contract on our unionized workers who voted against it. And listen, we don’t want to strike, but the only way we can get a fair contract is to strike, that’s our only leverage. The rail carriers do not negotiate in good faith,” Murtagh said. “The Railway Labor Act does not have time limits on these contracts to negotiate, so that can mean we can be negotiating a contract for five years. And we have no power to get a good contract. Our only leverage is to strike. And I feel like this whole process, the workers have kind of been demonized, words like, ‘Y’all are trying to shut the economy down.’ No, we’re not.”
“We’re out here working 14 hours a day in all weather conditions, most of us work outside. You know, we need some sick days,” Murtagh continued. “Why aren’t you guys talking to the rail carriers? We’re out here every day working, moving freight, making things happen. And when the leaders we vote in, who are supposed to support us, turn their back on us, you know, the system is broken.”