WASHINGTON – Greg Regan and Shari Semelsberger, president and secretary-treasurer of the Transportation Trades Department (TTD) of the AFL-CIO, today issued this statement as President Biden signs H.J.Res.100 to prevent a national disruption to freight rail service and end the years-long dispute between rail corporations and workers:
“We are disappointed anytime the vote to approve a contract is taken out of the workers’ hands. Even so, we cannot lose sight of the significant wins that are delivered to rail workers through this contract: a 24% pay raise with backpay, which is the biggest wage increase in 45 years; a $5,000 bonus for every worker; an increase in travel disbursements for maintenance of way workers; no increase in health insurance copays or deductibles; no changes to two-person crew staffing; and more.
Let’s be clear what happened here: ultimately, freight railroads refused to bargain in good faith and did not listen to their workers. The rail industry’s unchecked corporate greed and bad faith bargaining efforts forced this contract fight to run the full course of the Railway Labor Act, landing at the doorstep of the Biden Administration and the U.S. Congress.
While we are grateful to the 52 Senators, 218 House Democrats, and 3 lone House Republicans who stood with rail workers by voting for seven days of paid sick leave, the harsh reality is that too many elected leaders turned their backs on their constituents.
Shame on the 43 Senators and 207 House Republicans who abandoned the working class and sided with billion-dollar rail corporations. Because of them, President Biden is not able to sign a resolution today that guarantees seven days of paid sick leave to all rail workers.
While we are disappointed, we are not defeated. We are going to keep this fight moving forward, whether it be through legislation, executive action, or dragging the railroads back to the bargaining table.
Rest assured, the transportation labor movement will harness this moment and channel it into an aggressive and effective campaign for better, safer working conditions for all railroad workers.”