Biden Admin Takes Credit After Major Rail Company Gives Workers Paid Sick Leave, Just Months After Working Against It
A CSX Transportation Inc. freight train travels in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. CSX Corp. is scheduled to release earnings figures on January 16.
Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration took credit for a major freight carrier offering paid sick leave to workers, just a few months after trying to get by without it.

Rail company CSX announced a deal on Tuesday that would provide four days of paid sick leave and three personal days for some 5,000 employees. The Biden administration took credit for pushing the negotiations on Thursday. But the administration previously pushed railroad unions to accept a deal that did not include paid sick leave, and signed a law imposing that deal on workers in December.

CSX struck the deal with two unions: the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way (BMWED), which represents train engineers, and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen (BRC), which represents mechanics and mechanical workers. “CSX is committed to listening to our railroaders and working with their representatives to find solutions that improve their quality of life and experience as employees,” the company said in a statement. “These agreements demonstrate that commitment and are a direct result of the collaborative relationship we are working to cultivate with all of the unions that represent CSX employees. We greatly appreciate the leadership of the BMWED and BRC in working towards these agreements.”

The White House was reportedly in contact with CSX before it made the announcement, Axios reported, citing an administration official. Biden administration officials, including Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, and National Economic Council director Brian Deese, have all pressed the issue in phone calls with executives from CSX, Union Pacific, BNSF, and Norfolk Southern.

The White House took credit for helping negotiations on Thursday, saying that its involvement helped close the deal.

“[T]he president signed a bill in December that averted a rail disruption and ensured union members would receive the 24 percent pay raise in their tentative agreements,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One. “When signing this bill, the president committed to continuing the fight to secure paid sick leave for all workers, including rail workers.”

“These agreements came following continued advocacy and involvement from the Biden administration, pushing railroad leadership to reach an agreement that secured paid sick leave for workers, which continues to be a priority for President Biden,” Jean-Pierre added. “[T]he agreements between CSX, BMWE, and BRC to provide paid sick days are good steps, ensuring no covered worker has to risk their income to take a day off when they are sick. Securing paid sick leave for rail workers will continue to be a priority for the president. And we are strongly urging other rail companies to follow suit.”

But the Biden administration did not include paid sick leave in the original agreement, which was negotiated by Walsh and other White House officials, and tentatively agreed to in September. Several of the nation’s largest railroad unions rejected the agreement, citing the lack of paid time off. That put negotiations in the hands of Congress, and President Joe Biden pressured lawmakers to pass the deal without amendment. “I am calling on Congress to pass legislation immediately to adopt the Tentative Agreement between railroad workers and operators — without any modifications or delay — to avert a potentially crippling national rail shutdown,” Biden said in a statement in November.

Biden got his wish. Congress passed a bill to impose the agreement on workers on December 1. But an amendment in the Senate that would have provided seven days of paid sick leave, an amendment which had bipartisan support, was blocked. Biden signed the deal into law on December 2.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Biden Admin Takes Credit After Major Rail Company Gives Workers Paid Sick Leave, Just Months After Working Against It