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Rail Labor Dispute Careening Toward December Strike

Rail Labor Dispute Careening Toward December Strike

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg hedges on how the Biden administration would respond should a strike occur.

Legal Insurrection has been following the developments related to a potential rail strike since this summer.

In the fall, I wrote that Biden brokered a deal with the unions, handing out gobs of cash to prevent the strike from occurring before the November election.

As predicted, now that the election is over, the rail labor dispute is careening toward a December strike.

Joe Biden faces the prospect of a crippling strike by railroad unions that could stall transport of fuel, corn and drinking water, dramatically complicate holiday season train travel, and dent the US president’s political standing.

If an agreement is not reached by December 9 at the latest, the world’s largest economy could see nearly 7,000 freight trains grind to a halt, at a cost of more than $2 billion a day, according to the American Association of Railroads.

Biden himself has got “involved directly” in the negotiations aimed at averting a work stoppage, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday.

“I don’t want to get into details at this time, but he has been involved,” she said.

Several of the railroad unions rejected the Biden-backed agreement.

Four freight rail unions, with a combined membership of close to 60,000 rail workers, have voted down the five-year contract agreement brokered by the Biden administration back in September. The latest rejection came Monday from the largest of the unions, representing some 28,000 conductors, brakemen, and yardmen.

Eight other unions have ratified the deal, but they too could be pulled back into this labor dispute. That’s because if one union decides to strike, all of the unions, representing about 115,000 freight rail workers, will honor the picket lines.

It turns out, many of the members who ratified the deal were not happy with the terms.

Only 54% members in the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), the second largest rail union, voted for the deal. Union members across the industry who opposed the proposed deal did so knowing that Congress might vote to order them to stay on the job or return to work under terms of a contract that could be even worse than the ones they rejected.

Quality-of-life issues are at the core of the labor dispute.

“Honestly, this vote is about the frustration that the railroads have created with [their attendance policies] and the deterioration of quality of life as a result for our conductors,” said Jared Cassity, the national legislative director at SMART Transportation and a conductor.

“It’s about attendance policies, sick time, fatigue, and the lack of family time. A lot of these things that cannot be seen but are felt by our membership. It’s destroying their livelihoods.”

There is a growing awareness of the potential impact of a strike on the already struggling economy.

Railroad tank cars play a crucial role in transporting gasoline for motor vehicles, according to CNN. Additionally, several chemicals used in the refining process of crude oil arrive by rail, as does the ethanol that goes into gasoline. The cost of a gallon of gas, without the added ethanol, could increase by 16 cents.

…Grain is one of the top commodities transported by rail, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. During a strike, grain would be loaded into rail containers awaiting to be shipped, CNN reported. If other food ingredients are unable to reach food processing plants, domestic food prices and global food markets will be disrupted by a strike.

Fresh from providing potentially libelous commentary on the Colorado Springs shooting, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg hedged on answering what the administration would do if a strike should occur.

If the two sides can’t reach a deal, Congress could step in and force an agreement by imposing contract terms. Such an intervention would prevent a strike that could cost more than $2 billion a day, according to estimates by the Association of American Railroads.

The question is whether Democratic lawmakers are prepared to go against their political allies — unions.

When asked whether the Biden administration would back rail workers in the event of a strike, Buttigieg did not answer directly.

“I don’t want to get into a scenario over battle lines that haven’t fully been drawn yet,” he said, “but I will say is that we certainly believe in collective bargaining.”

Clearly, we have extremely unserious people in positions of authority when we really need thoughtful, rational, and effective leadership. Let’s pray for a Christmas miracle.


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“Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg hedges on how the Biden administration would respond should a strike occur”

Easily answered – with sheer and utter INCOMPETENCE

He and Chad will run up the rainbow flag and declare the problem solved.

    Joe-dallas in reply to fscarn. | November 24, 2022 at 8:38 pm

    Buttigieg only transportation expertise is that he has been rear ended numerous times

      AF_Chief_Master_Sgt in reply to Joe-dallas. | November 25, 2022 at 11:25 am

      joe-dallas, you apparently didn’t pay adequate homage to the gender-benders in your commentary.

      Thanks for not kneeling at the altar of @&$£#Qwerty.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to fscarn. | November 25, 2022 at 9:40 am

    What these unions are doing is blackmail. They want big increase which all of us will be paying for with our devalued dollars, better for them and worse for everyone else. They have the same mentality as public-school teachers who wanted to be paid while sitting on their asses at home. Another thing about that was school districts collecting or tax dollars while there were few or no children, meaning they got a big windfall.

      Wrathchilde in reply to JohnSmith100. | November 25, 2022 at 10:38 am

      The Railroad union members have stated publicly that they do not care about, or really even want the money increase. They want to time-off situation fixed. They want the manpower issues fixed.
      It matters little if I get 100 vacation days a year, if my company won’t allow me to use any of them. So these folks are mission their daughters school plays, son’s sporting events, and even have a hard time keeping medical appointments as they are not able to use their earned time off.
      You are so off-base you’re not even in the same stadium.

        AF_Chief_Master_Sgt in reply to Wrathchilde. | November 25, 2022 at 11:35 am

        While I agree with you about some of the items you mention, many of us have the same issues and don’t have the ability to hold the country hostage to our demands.

        Many of us have to work long hours, anywhere up to 65 to 75 hours per week. We work weekends, we work nights, we have PTO and sick days, but are still expected to work through those.

        We also miss our children’s birthdays, choirs, sports events, and much more. Our jobs are also as important as railroad workers – working in healthcare, IT, the trades, and much more. We also have to provide for our families, keep the roof over our heads, pay the rent/mortgage, and put gas in our cars.

        So, while I have empathy for the railway workers, I can’t see why their woes are more important than the woes of the average American trying to make ends meet.

        The only difference, they can’t be fired… but the rest of us can.

      The Gentle Grizzly in reply to JohnSmith100. | November 25, 2022 at 11:44 am

      And so many of you are focused on his homosexuality and not the real issue: he is incompetent.

They many want the strike to blame on the impending crash… such as no diesel, dwindling food supplies, inflation. Since the unions are so into the Left … I can’t exclude collusion.

    Joe-dallas in reply to alaskabob. | November 24, 2022 at 8:42 pm

    Are the rail unions members democrat or just the leaders?

    The members in the rail unions do actual work which tends to vote republican as compared to the public sector unions which don’t do any actual work with members that vote almost exclusively democrat

      henrybowman in reply to Joe-dallas. | November 24, 2022 at 11:50 pm

      That’s a good first-level analysis. But then you have to add in the members who are getting some really attractive bennie from their union contract that they wouldn’t be getting without it, and realize that without Democrats, that gimme would just wither away. In other words, the sellouts.

Commandeer all electric vehicles, nationwide, and pay the owners minimum wage to haul freight in them.

I have it on good authority that dancing tik-tok nurses will alleviate the severity of a crisis….

Biden took credit for avoiding a rail strike just before the election, but now that it’s over he has no more interest in it than the man in the moon. And the man in the moon, otherwise known as Pete Buttigieg, is more interested in green cheese than solving transportation problems.

hey the economy is crashing, let’s go on strike! lol. Insanity

    Posies in reply to geronl. | November 24, 2022 at 10:37 pm

    If the railroads actually cared about their workers, they wouldn’t be threatening to strike. And there are MANY railroaders that are Republicans. Railroaders are REQUIRED by the federal government to join the union. It’s not because they are democrats. Railroaders are not federal employees. Railroads had a reputation of literally working their employees to death, prior to the existence of unions. I have no doubt that the unions are looking for the highest bidder. They didn’t want their members to strike. Biden and company are on the side of the lobbyist railroads, not the employees. If all they cared about was money, they would have accepted the tentative agreement. The railroads know what the issues are… They laid off a huge percentage of their workforce in order to please their shareholders and inflate their value, and then COVID hit and they lost even more. Their use of Precision Scheduled Railroading is all about profits…they do not care about the customer or the worker. And they continue to increase their value by billions, by cutting operating costs, while having trouble retaining their employees and failing to get new employees to replace the ones they laid off. They have had 3 years to broker a deal and they refuse to. The workers feel this is their last chance to be heard. Unfortunately, I’m afraid the railroads will win.

    henrybowman in reply to geronl. | November 24, 2022 at 11:55 pm

    Negotiation 101 — it’s the BEST time to go on strike.
    You want to pressure an distressed opponent, not a stable one.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg hedged on answering what the administration would do if a strike should occur.

Let me help you out with that:

1. “Strike? What strike? There is no strike.”

2. “Actually, the strike is a GOOD thing.”

3. “It’s Putin’s fault.”

4. “It’s Trump’s fault.”

A totally rookie error, spending all your focus on highways, and totally ignoring the national security implications of racist railway stretches!

This cretin finally crawled out of his hole.

Can you imagine the damage this moron has been doing behind the scenes?

I don’t understand – don’t the unions know Buttigieg is gay?

Why doesn’t he just tell them that he’s gay, that will solve everything.

It violates rule of law – X and Y shouldn’t be able to gain more rights against Z by joining forces than they had individually. In particular they can’t force Z to negotiate with them.

Aside from that, unions work the for benefit of union elite, not the workers. There are conflicts of interest between various factions, e.g. seniority and rookie benefits, so the workers aren’t even represented in the best case by the organization that they must pay dues to.

No railroad worker ever runs anywhere. It’s apparently a rule. If a conductor has to walk the length of a train, it’s at a normal walk.

Passengers can and do run.

That creepy thing is as useless to civilization as Beto, the Texas SoiBoi.

Take a page from RR’s playbook: If they strike, fire them, all of them.

    CommoChief in reply to NotKennedy. | November 25, 2022 at 9:31 am

    Reagan could do so because he had a pool of military ATC to deploy in place. That mitigated a good deal of the potential damage.

    We don’t have a set of railway workers to replace these unions.

Shouldn’t Mayor Alfred E. Newman be out searching for racist highways?

Worthless turd.

The Gentle Grizzly | November 25, 2022 at 9:05 am

California will get a double whammy.. Jan 1, many over-the-road truck will be forced f of service. No trains, no trucks..

For some reason Buttigieg remains fixated on the caboose.

Oh, look, after the election.

Funny how that happened.

We are being lead by incompetent Leftist hacks

So, the Feebs stepped in on this “negotiation” as a third party, because they didn’t like how it was coming out, and everything is their business.

Now do the teachers’ unions.