Marco Rubio slams Biden shutting down a rail strike for workers who want more paid sick leave: 'I will not vote to impose a deal that doesn't have the support of the rail workers'
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Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio.Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Republican Marco Rubio has pushed back on Biden's request to have Congress ratify a railroad deal.
Railroad workers threatened strikes over a lack of paid vacation, which could devastate the economy.
Biden called on Congress to step in and avert a strike by passing the tentative agreement.
President Joe Biden has stepped in to stave off a railroad workers' strike and keep rail infrastructure running, even as workers demand a better contract with access to paid sick leave. Now he has drawn the wrath of Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio.
"The railroads and the workers should go back and negotiate a deal that the workers, not just the union bosses, will accept," Rubio tweeted Tuesday. "But if Congress is forced to do so, I will not vote to push through a deal that does not have the support of railroad workers."
In a statement Monday, Biden said he urged Congress to "pass legislation immediately to accept the tentative agreement between railroad workers and operators -- without amendment or delay -- to avert a potentially crippling closure of the national railroad." Congress can vote to step in and push through a settlement for railroad workers, overriding the normal negotiation process.
That would discourage workers from going on strike and continuing to negotiate access to paid leave, a key issue for union members. Senate Republicans had previously urged Congress to intervene and push through an agreement.
The workers wanted 15 paid sick days, according to Reuters, but the railroad companies agreed to only one paid in-person day in the preliminary agreement.
"As a proud, pro-Labour President, I am reluctant to overrule the ratification procedures and the views of those who voted against the deal," Biden said. "But in this case -- where the economic impact of a shutdown would hurt millions of other working people and families -- I think Congress needs to use its powers to adopt this deal."
Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg echoed Biden's sentiment. A strike could cost the economy $2 billion a day and shut down a whole range of services, according to the pro-business US Chamber of Commerce.
While Rubio lashed out at union bosses, the contracting process requires union members to vote on whether or not to ratify the tentative agreement. The industry's largest union, along with three others, voted against the interim agreement, while the rest of the 12 unions involved in the negotiations voted to ratify it.
The lack of sick leave in the deal has sparked opposition from workers and politicians alike. Ro Khanna, a Democratic Congressman from California, tweeted, "Am I missing something here? Why don't the rail companies just allow workers to have paid sick leave? The new agreement only gives them 1. This is absurd. We must stand with it workers. It's not complicated."
Michael Paul Lindsey, an Idaho locomotive engineer and a member of the Railroad Workers United steering committee, told Insider it was "blatant treason," but he wasn't surprised.
"I found it kind of ridiculous that anyone would think either the Democrats or the Republicans really care. Bottom line, they care about money," he said. Still, "I always had this hope in the back of my mind that maybe one day someone would do something that's actually right for American workers -- instead of just what's right for American companies."
Read the original article on Business Insider
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