Transportation

Rubio says he won’t vote for any deal that lacks support of rail workers

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
Greg Nash
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) leaves the Old Senate Chamber following the Senate Republican leadership elections on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.

Amid pressure on Congress to pass a bill that would avert a rail shutdown, ​​Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Tuesday that he won’t back any deal that lacks support from rail workers. 

“Just because Congress has the authority to impose a heavy-handed solution does not mean we should. It is wrong for the Biden Administration, which has failed to fight for workers, to ask Congress to impose a deal the workers themselves have rejected. I will not vote for any deal that does not have the support of the rail workers,” Rubio said in a statement.

A shutdown looms due to an ongoing labor dispute between rail workers and operators. President Biden on Monday urged lawmakers to “immediately” pass legislation that would adopt a tentative labor agreement “without any modifications or delay” in order to avoid what the president said could be “a potentially crippling national rail shutdown.”

The tentative agreement, which negotiators reached in September but has been rejected by some rail unions, would boost union members’ wages by 14 percent and increase wages and medical care for workers whose pay had been frozen.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House would take up such a bill and send it over to the Senate. 

“It is my hope that this necessary, strike-averting legislation will earn a strongly bipartisan vote, giving America’s families confidence in our commitment to protecting their financial futures,” Pelosi said in a statement.

But Rubio said the matter should return to the negotiating table due to workers’ concerns, noting the tentative agreement has been rejected by four of 12 involved unions due to its lack of paid sick days.

“Instead of relying on Congress to carry their water, the parties should go back to the negotiating table and strike a fair deal that workers can accept,” Rubio said.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has also said that the deal doesn’t go far enough.

“I would like to see management come to the table and treat their workers with respect. If they don’t, then Congress has got to act to make sure that there is guaranteed sick leave for these workers,” Sanders said, according to The Washington Post

Without a deal, the strike is set to begin Dec. 9.

A top rail labor official said on Tuesday that their union does not want to go on strike, but that the workers want to push for “what’s just.”

Tags Biden Biden administration Marco Rubio Marco Rubio Nancy Pelosi rail strike
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