Rail workers rally for paid sick leave, Sanders urges executive order

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  • Rail workers are organizing across the country in support of paid sick leave, including at Capitol.
  • These actions follow a Congress vote that approved a contract for rail management with only one personal day.
  • Some lawmakers have asked the Biden administration not to use its executive power to guarantee sick day coverage in the sector.

Rail workers will not give up their sick leave and better conditions.

Even after Congress voted through a contractWorkers were left with one more personal day. However, workers continue to push for more. Some lawmakers are even going straight to Washington.

The organizing committee for the rail worker actions is SMART-TD,  the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Transportation Division, the country’s largest rail union. Workers will demonstrate at the Capitol in DC, where Senator Bernie Sanders will be speaking. states ranging from Massachusetts to Utah.

“Our goal today is to raise awareness that we just signed a contract that doesn’t allow us to get sick time. We’re probably the only trade that doesn’t get sick time,” Chris Weldon (the state legislative director for New England SMART TD), told Insider while he was traveling to the Massachusetts rally.

At President Joe Biden’s request, Congress passed a contract between rail workers and management to avoid an economy-shaking strike. A rail walkout — which workers were prepared to do over paid sick leave — would’ve strained the supply chainPotentially endangered access to clean drinking water. A progressive-backed proposal is however possible tack seven paid sick daysOn that contract, not enough votes were cast to allow it to pass. 

“The American people need to know that although this round of collective bargaining is over,” the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department stated in a statement.

Sanders, along with more than 70 other senators and members of the House, participated in worker rallies. have calledBiden administration to consider using different executive avenues to grant sick leave to workers. One possibility is issuing an executive directive, similar to the one President Barack Obama issued. signed in 2015, which granted paid sick leave to federal contractors — but did not include rail workers, even though they are technically included in that category

It is a travesty that rail workers do not have this fundamental human right. We urge you and your administration, therefore, to guarantee the seven basic human rights to rail workers.
Sanders and other legislators wrote in a letter that they needed to take executive action to save sick days. letterTo the White House

Insider was told by a spokesperson for the White House that President Biden has made it a priority to expand paid sick leave access. “He’s made numerous proposals to promote paid leave for all workers during his two years of office and he’ll continue doing so.”

Officials from rail unions told CNNThey have been in discussions with the administration regarding a possible executive order and are “hopeful” that action will be taken.

“Rail workers care deeply about their industry and want it to grow and expand.” We don’t want the railroads to hurt our supply chain by making the work conditions and lack of sick leave so bad that people leave and hurt the economy,” Michael Paul Lindsey from Idaho, who is a member of Railroad Workers United’s steering-committee, told Insider.

There are 115,000 railway workers who are union-eligible across the USThey were ready to walk out. They keep the trains running. ship everything from food to chemicals to cars — goods that touch every aspect of the American economy, and its consumers. A strike over sick leaves would have been felt across the US.

“We want to see our industry thrive and grow because it’s good for the economy, and these rallies are about helping the industry — not hindering the industry,” Lindsey said.

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