The Rail Strike Conundrum
Railway workers have rights, but do they have the right to take down the economy?
If you’re Joe Biden and the Democrats in Congress this is a real problem. The union workers face serious issues, issues any worker can relate to. They have basically no flexibility in their schedules. They can’t get paid leave for almost any reason and they are expected to work long hours far from home.
It’s draconian, a throwback to sweatshop business practices. But these workers are doing essential work. Not just essential; critical work that keeps our economy going. They transport everything, including fuel, chemicals used to treat water, all kinds of freight, people- you name it. And that could come to a screeching halt next week.
Which would bring the economy to its knees overnight, just as we are narrowly managing to stave off a recession. Congress and the President are right now passing emergency legislation to keep the trains running, in a bipartisan effort. But that legislation will not help the workers
This is not about pay, that was dealt with earlier this year. It is about human rights. But it is also about profiteering on the backs of workers.
Joe Biden is famously a union-friendly politician, a champion of blue collar workers. The Dems are also largely pro-union and they want these rights for the railway workers. But they have to swallow their beliefs and vote against those rights, at least in the short term.
It’s a no-win situation politically. They simply can’t let the country get shut down at this point in history. Democrats are preparing another bill that would give the workers seven days paid leave, but it is questionable whether Republicans will vote for it.
I’m a bit of a train nut. It is my preferred mode of long distance transportation because you can relax, work, and see the country close up. But to most Americans, when they think of trains, they think of freight trains, long lines of boxcars, tankers, and flatbeds carrying enormous quantities of things we need on a daily basis.
Trains are by far the most efficient way to transport freight and passengers , especially in a geographically enormous country like ours. The fact that we do not have an…