Sen. Bernie Sanders blocked the speedy approval of the resolution introduced on Wednesday by the Republicans that would require railroad workers to adopt the outlines of a labor deal.
Sanders stood up on the floor to impede Republicans’ request to avoid a strike that would impact millions of Americans by forcing the railroad workers and companies to accept the recommendations of a nonpartisan panel within the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee.
Stressing the huge profits railroad companies have made in recent years, Sanders underscored that they should start treating their workers more fairly, pointing out that the freight rail industry workers are entitled to a grand total of zero sick days.
Meanwhile, the rail industry made a record-breaking $20 billion in profit last year alone with over $20 million in total compensation for the CEO of CSX and over $14 million in total compensation for both CEOs of Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern.
Accusing Democrats of putting the US economy at risk after Sanders blocked the resolution, Republican senators argued that their labor deal was aimed at avoiding a disastrous rail strike that could freeze rail travel and freight shipment countrywide.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed that the Burr-Wicker resolution would have given railway workers a big raise while preventing a crippling strike and supply chain crisis stemming from paralyzed food, fertilizer, and energy shipments nationwide.
The comprehensive recommendations by the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB), which President Biden created to avert a strike, included significant wage increases retroactive to 2020 such as a 24% increase in pay, annual bonuses of $1,000 and additional paid leave.
According to GOP senators, a massive rail strike will virtually shut down the US economy and further fuel inflation.