Rubio Outflanks Progressives on Rail Worker Strike, Champions Workers Rights
In a rare show of bipartisanship, Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fl., and Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-Ny. agreed that rail workers should have more say in a deal to stave off a strike that could cost the United States up to $2 billion a day.
In the end, Rubio outflanked Cortez and most members of ‘The Squad’ by voting against a deal to end the strike, believing it did not sufficiently satisfy the demands of rail workers.
The strike would have an outsize impact ahead of the holidays as Americans reliant on rail and air travel to have gifts and other holiday items delivered would see commerce largely grind to a halt.
“Let me be clear: A nationwide rail shutdown would be catastrophic,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said ahead of a vote to avert the rail strike on Wednesday. “A shutdown would grind our economy to a halt, and every family would feel the strain.”
"Most people don't realize how big of a role railroads play in supporting our economy,” said Dr. Bruce Ferrin, professor of supply chain management at Western Michigan University.https://t.co/FaMXQG1D7i
— News10 (@KTVL) November 29, 2022
The strike was caused by frustration from rail workers about a lack of paid sick days, and both Rubio and Cortez agreed that the strike should be ended by an agreement that included rail workers’ input.
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“The railways and workers should go back and negotiate a deal that the workers, not just the union bosses, will accept,” Rubio said in a post on Tuesday. “I will not vote to impose a deal that doesn’t have the support of the rail workers.”
The way to avoid a rail strike isn’t for Congress to impose a deal made by labor bosses that was rejected by the rank & file of unions representing over half the rail workers
The way to avoid a strike is a new deal that rank & file members will support
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 30, 2022
Ocasio-Cortez retweeted the message and agreed with Rubio, saying, “Glad we are on the same page [regarding] rail workers paid sick days.”
On Friday, Biden signed a bill that made it illegal for rail workers to strike; the bill did not provide paid sick days that rail workers were demanding.
Biden cited the devastating impact a rail worker strike would cause during the holidays, saying that hundreds of thousands of workers would lose their jobs.
Labor activists and progressive politicians expressed frustration with the bill after it was signed.
Lets be clear.
Rail workers rejected this contract because it doesn’t provide them the bare minimum: paid sick days.
Pres. Biden wants to force workers to accept a bad deal, instead of allowing rail workers to use their power – a potential strike – to win what they deserve.
— Zohran Kwame Mamdani (@ZohranKMamdani) November 29, 2022
Cortez voted for the bill, believing it satisfied rail workers’ demands, and pressured Rubio to do the same.
“The House just sent over what you asked for: the full TA deal w/ sick days as supported and demanded by our rail workers. Can they count on your YES vote for the amendment?” she asked him.
Glad we are on the same page re: railworkers’ paid sick days @marcorubio. A rarity, but we’ll take it.
The House just sent over what you asked for: the full TA deal w/ sick days as supported and demanded by our railworkers.
Can they count on your YES vote for the amendment? https://t.co/D9dRgbzN7U
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 1, 2022
Rubio ultimately voted against the resolution that received overwhelming support in the Senate, with 80 yes votes.
He believed that labor unions and rail companies should have been given more time to negotiate instead of forcing a deal that most rail workers had previously rejected.
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