President Joe Biden’s tentative railroad union deal fell apart on Monday after a freight rail workers union rejected it, raising fears of a looming strike.
The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the Teamsters rejected the deal on the grounds that management refused to offer paid time off to workers for sickness or family emergencies.
“Railroaders are discouraged and upset with working conditions and compensation and hold their employer in low regard. Railroaders do not feel valued,” Union President Tony D. Cardwell said in a statement.
“Railroaders do not feel valued. They resent the fact that management holds no regard for their quality of life, illustrated by their stubborn reluctance to provide a higher quantity of paid time off, especially for sickness.”
Cardwell said the union would continue negotiating with the rail companies until five days after Congress reconvened on November 14.
Last month, Biden brokered a tentative agreement with the unions and the railroads, boasting of his success as a dealmaker.
“Today is a win — and I mean it sincerely — a win for America,” he said triumphantly on September 15 in a speech in the Rose Garden.
“This agreement is validation — validation of what I’ve always believed: Unions and management can work together for the benefit of everyone,” he added.
But the union’s rejection of the deal sets Biden back and again raises the possibility of a national rail shutdown which would cripple the economy right before the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays.