U.S. Sens. Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, won’t support congressional action to stop potential rail strike
President Biden says that Congress needs to pass emergency legislation to avert a nationwide rail strike that would “devastate our economy,” but both of Florida’s Republican U.S. senators say they won’t support such legislative action.
Sen. Rick Scott tweeted out Tuesday in direct criticism of Biden:
“@JoeBiden failed to get a deal done with rail workers & now he wants Congressional intervention. Only in Washington is more government the answer. Asking Congress to meddle in this & turn its back on workers is insane. I won’t support it.”
As to Sen. Marco Rubio, “The railways & workers should go back & negotiate a deal that the workers, not just the union bosses, will accept But if Congress is forced to do it, I will not vote to impose a deal that doesn’t have the support of the rail workers,” Rubio tweeted Tuesday.
A tentative agreement between railroad workers and operators was approved by labor and management negotiators in September. Since that time, eight of the 12 unions have voted to ratify that agreement, so the unions went into a cooling-off period that is set to end December 9.
That agreement would give workers a 24% raise over five years, from 2020 to 2024. But paid sick leave was not on the table and the emergency board established by Biden recommended to the unions that they withdraw their proposal to have 15 paid sick days.
As the Phoenix’s Ariana Figeroa has reported, the way that rail unions work is that all 12 unions need to agree on a contract, and if one union doesn’t agree, workers represented by the others don’t cross the picket line.
In a statement released on Monday, Biden said that without freight rail, “many U.S. industries would shut down.”
“My economic advisors report that as many as 765,000 Americans – many union workers themselves – could be put out of work in the first two weeks alone. Communities could lose access to chemicals necessary to ensure clean drinking water. Farms and ranches across the country could be unable to feed their livestock,” he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says there will be a bill on the floor on Wednesday to approve the tentative agreement and avert a potential rail strike. It’s not clear when the Senate might pick up the measure.