The senate votes to avert a rail strike — but not give workers paid sick days

  • The Senate voted to impose a tentative agreement and avert an economy-rattling rail strike.
  • However, the Senate did not pass a resolution to add 7 sick days for workers, a key demand.

The Senate stepped in to push through a rail deal and avert a potentially economy-rattling strike — but left rail workers without the paid sick leave they had been demanding.

In a 80 to 15 vote, the Senate passed a resolution to enact the tentative agreement brokered by the White House that was shot down by four out of twelve rail unions who voted on it. The move comes after President Joe Biden asked Congress to step in and enact the tentative agreement as is, which Congress is allowed to do for rail industry labor disputes. The agreement will give workers a gradual 24% raise.

But a separate measure to add seven days of sick leave — currently, workers have none, and the tentative agreement would grant them one additional personal day — failed to get 60 votes, with just 52 senators voting in favor. The House had voted to pass both the legislation enacting the tentative agreement and the addition of seven sick days.

“This vote was a blatant endorsement of corporate America and the too big to fail corporations that are allowed to have free reign over the US economy,” Michael Paul Lindsey, a locomotive engineer in Idaho who is a steering-committee member for Railroad Workers United, told Insider.

“We were so close. It’s just shameful,” Lindsey added.

A strike could have cost the US economy $2 billion a day, and jeopardized access to clean drinking water, as chlorine to clean water is carried primarily through rail. It would’ve also strained a still-recovering supply chain and potentially sent already high prices on goods even higher.

“I think the votes are despicable, not necessarily surprising,” Ron Kaminkow, organizer for Railroad Workers United and a locomotive engineer, told Insider. “I think the average railroader is not very happy right now with either political party.”

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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