Chamber of Commerce Brags About Blocking Sick Days for Railroad Workers

FILE - A rail worker switches a track for a Locomotive in the Selkirk rail yard, Wednesday
AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File

The United States Chamber of Commerce, which is against sick pay for workers, is reportedly responsible for blocking a resolution to provide seven days of sick leave for railroad employees after sending out a letter just days before the Senate voted.

As Breitbart News reported, the U.S. Senate voted earlier this month to pass a resolution, H.J.Res.100, to impose a contract on freight rail workers, in addition to voting to reject a concurrent measure, H.Con.Res.119, with a 52-43 margin after needing 60 votes to give workers seven guaranteed paid sick days.

Notably, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted was the only Democrat to vote against the measure, with six Republicans voting for the measure and multiple members of both parties not voting.

Following the votes, the Intercept reported this past weekend that “workers who’d been lobbying the upper chamber had reason to be hopeful” before the Senate voted. But railroad companies “came down hard” on the Senate, and the Chamber of Commerce said they would “score.” Intercept noted that scoring the vote means “anybody who voted for it would be punished come election time.”

As the Intercept noted, the Chamber of Commerce published a letter on November 30, the day before the Senate vote, stating:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce strongly supports H.J. Res.100, which provides a necessary resolution to avert a catastrophic labor strike that would shut down rail service in America. The Chamber strongly opposes H.Con.Res.119 which would impose an unworkable, one-sided modification to a labor agreement that has already been agreed to by the leadership of all 12 unions representing rail workers and a majority of all rail workers. The Chamber will consider including votes on both pieces of legislation – including procedural votes – in our annual How They Voted scorecard. [Emphasis added.]

A strike by workers would cause enormous harm to the nation. Therefore, we urge you to pass H.J.Res.100 and reject any procedural votes that would amend the terms of the Sept. 15 TAs, including H.Con.Res 119. Congress has acted 18 times since the passage of the Railway Labor Act to avert a stoppage of national rail service. We urge you to do so again. [Emphasis added.]

Jeff Joines, legislative affairs director for Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWED), told the Intercept that four of the senators who were “hard yeses” on sick leave ended up not being for the measure after the Chamber of Commerce sent a letter on how the organization felt.

Joines added that two senators specifically said they were not for the measure after the Chamber of Commerce sent the letter while directly acknowledging Manchin announced he was not for the sick pay after the letter.

Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at or follow him on Twitter @JacobMBliss.


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