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Rubio says he won’t vote for deal to stop rail strike without worker support

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 11/29/2022 Zachary Halaschak
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fl.,speaks during a campaign rally with Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, in Hialeah, Fla. © Provided by Washington Examiner Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fl.,speaks during a campaign rally with Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, in Hialeah, Fla.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announced on Tuesday that he won’t support legislation to prevent an economically calamitous rail strike if it isn’t supported by the union workers.

The Florida lawmaker's statement, marking an unusual pro-labor position for a Republican, comes as workers at several rail unions have voted to reject an agreement reached between labor leaders and the railroads. A strike, which would be terrible for the economy, could begin as soon as next week unless Congress uses its special power to intervene and impose a labor agreement.

PELOSI SAYS BILL TO RESOLVE RAIL STRIKE WILL BE ON FLOOR AFTER WHITE HOUSE MEETING

Rubio's stance on the strike places him in league with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with regard to organized labor — even as President Joe Biden, who has styled himself the "most pro-union president," is calling on Congress to circumvent the union ratification process.

“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,” he said. “I will not vote for any deal that does not have the support of the rail workers.

“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,” he added.

The news comes a day after President Joe Biden urged Congress to intervene. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that lawmakers will vote to adopt the tentative agreement between union leadership and railroads agreed to in September, despite membership from four of the 12 unions voting it down.

“We must avoid a strike,” Pelosi said, announcing that legislation will be presented on the House floor Wednesday before going to the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also said Tuesday that he and his GOP counterpart Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had agreed to bring up the legislation as soon as possible.

Rubio’s position — and the notion that he might be aligned with the Senate’s only self-described socialist on the issue — might surprise some, given that Republicans and conservatives generally don't champion organized labor, but Rubio has supported organized labor efforts in the past.

Last year, an Amazon warehouse’s drive to organize a facility in Bessemer, Alabama, grabbed national attention, with both Rubio and Sanders throwing support behind the push, albeit for different reasons.

Rubio’s concerns about Amazon went beyond just labor practices but also focused on the “woke ideology” of the company and its refusal “to work in good faith with the U.S. government” on national security threats, he told the Washington Examiner last year.

“Amazon also uses anticompetitive strategies to crush small businesses that once made up the fabric of our communities,” he said in a statement. “Amazon no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt, especially when it comes to the treatment of American workers.”

Sanders has also criticized the rail deal’s lack of paid sick leave, something he characterized as "outrageous," although he hasn't spoken in too much detail about his plans for the legislation.

“We will have more to say about that later,” he told CNN.

The agreement under consideration would provide workers with an immediate 14% pay bump and back pay for the past two years. The workers would also get $1,000 cash bonuses each year. The salary increases would total 24% through the five-year contract.

Negotiations began more than two years ago. Rail workers have complained about understaffing, especially given that, during the past six years alone, some 45,000 employees have been laid off.

A strike can be prevented by Congress even if there isn’t agreement between all the unions because rail strikes are governed by the Railway Labor Act of 1926 rather than the National Labor Relations Act. Congress has the authority to intervene and force the unions to accept the agreement’s terms.

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As the Dec. 9 deadline to side-step the crippling rail strike looms, Biden, despite fashioning himself as the “most pro-union president,” is pushing for the strike to be averted through the force of Congress.

“As a proud pro-labor President, I am reluctant to override the ratification procedures and the views of those who voted against the agreement,” Biden said in a statement. “But in this case, where the economic impact of a shutdown would hurt millions of other working people and families, I believe Congress must use its powers to adopt this deal.”

 

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Tags: Unions, Marco Rubio, Strike, Railroads, Bernie Sanders, News

Original Author: Zachary Halaschak

Original Location: Rubio says he won’t vote for deal to stop rail strike without worker support

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