American families have been suffering from record inflation. While Biden is celebrating the passage of his Inflation Reduction Act, his administration announced that inflation rose to 8.3% with food jumping to 11.4%. Inflation is on the rise because of woke progressives’ tax and spend agenda. Inflation was about to be made worse by the game of political chicken since the freight railroad workers were about to strike. Senate Democrats chose to do nothing, putting the agenda of their biggest donors ahead of the needs of working families.
This problem has been long in the making but if the strike had hit, it would have come at the worst possible time. Railroads are responsible for transporting both the natural resources needed to fuel America’s energy needs and the food to feed our nation. A national railroad strike would have created a supply chain problem affecting both gas and groceries.
Months before COVID-19 turned the world upside down, the railroads and unions began their negotiations to adjust the compensation packages of the railroad workers. Two and a half years later the parties were still at an impasse and President Joe Biden, pursuant to the authority granted to him by Congress, issued an Executive Order which created an emergency board.
This Executive Order prevented the parties from going on a strike for sixty days while the board reviewed the facts and issued its recommendations. This Statute gave President Biden exclusive authority to determine who was on the Emergency Board. After conducting five days of hearings between both parties, on August 16th, the Biden Emergency Board issued its report.
The railroads were offering the workers a 16% raise over five years (2020-2024) while the unions were requesting a 28% raise over the same five years. After hearing expert testimony and reviewing all the evidence presented, the Board determined that the workers were entitled to a 22% raise plus an annual $1,000 service bonus.
The workers also asked for three additional paid holidays (Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Juneteenth, and Veteran’s Day). The railroads argued that they were already compensating the workers for 11 paid holidays whereas the transportation industry had on average seven paid holidays. The Biden Emergency Board recommendation was that the railroad workers be given “an additional paid day off for employees for absences due to sickness, fatigue, or personal reasons.”
America has learned that the major sticking point in this negotiation is that the workers want 15 annual paid sick days with unlimited rollover. The railroads contend that the program would cost $688 million annually and that most of the unions have already negotiated for some form of paid sick days or a “Supplemental Sickness Benefit Plan.” Ultimately the railroads argued that the workers have “a number of personal leave days, 11 paid holidays, and up to five weeks of vacation.” The Biden Emergency Board after hearing all the testimony and the arguments of both sides determined that 15 additional paid sick days was not the “appropriate way to address the concerns” of the workers regarding attendance policy.
According to 45 U.S.C. 160, the parties had 30 days to negotiate in good faith after the Biden Emergency Board issued its report before they could strike. This clock was set to expire tonight. The commerce of the United States was about to be disrupted. This week, Senator Burr of North Carolina introduced Senate Joint Resolution 61 which simply required both parties to accept the terms issued by the Biden Emergency Board.) However, with the financial stability of the country at jeopardy, Senate Democrats refused to act. They were willing to watch American families suffer so long as they did not cross their biggest campaign donors.
Some might argue that this is unconstitutional for Congress to interfere with a union negotiation. However, it is not unprecedented for the government to interfere with union strikes. In 1919, when the Boston police walked off their jobs, Massachusetts governor Calvin Coolidge supported the hiring of new officers to replace those who left. In 1981, when 11,319 Air Traffic Controllers walked off the job, President Ronald Reagan terminated them and hired their replacements.
S.J. Res. 61 relies on Art. 1, Sec. 8, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution for its authority to demand that the parties execute a contract per the terms outlined in the Biden Emergency Commission. The Constitution grants Congress the authority “to regulate Commerce … among the several States”. Using this enumerated commerce power, throughout the 1800s, Congress passed the necessary laws to allow private corporations to build, develop, and operate railroads.
When these private corporations were interfering with interstate commerce by developing a complex system of predatory shipping rates for farmers and small businesses, in 1887, Congress stepped in and created the Interstate Commerce Commission to regulate the railroads. Congress, using its commerce power created a regulatory agency that interfered with the business contracts of individuals and corporations.
Had the railroads shut down because of a strike, the cost of gas and groceries would have skyrocketed exponentially. We already saw the consequences to the nation’s supply chain when the port of Los Angeles was not able to timely unload ships. It was because of this impending supply chain crisis that Republican Senators introduced S.J. Res 61. Senator Bernie Sanders blocked the Republican rescue plan and Senator Schumer was nowhere to be seen.
Senate Democrats are kowtowing to their donors (unions) rather than ensuring that there is cereal at the grocery stores next week.
Late-night negotiations averted a strike that would have destroyed the American economy for years to come. However, the Senate Democrats showed their hand that they are no longer the party of the working people but instead they only serve the needs of their political donors. Senate Democrats were willing to allow the economy to crash to ensure the ongoing financial contributions to their campaigns from the nation’s unions.
Mark Meuser is an attorney with the Dhillon Law Group and a candidate for U.S. Senate in California.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.