Officials with the Biden administration have spoken up to try and take credit for the actions of one major freight carrier as is now elects to give paid sick leave to its workers, all just a scant few months after attempting to try and get by without any such thing.
CSX, the rail company in question, publically announced this new deal as last week which would give a total of four days of paid sick leave and three personal days for some 5,000 employees. The Biden administration has tried to step in to take credit for pushing through the recent negotiations which took place on Thursday of last week. However, the administration previously has made attempted to push all railroad unions to go along with a deal that did not actually include the recently awarded paid sick leave and signed a law that imposed the previous deal on workers in December.
CSX was able to complete a deal with a pair of unions: the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen (BRC), which is comprised of mechanical workers and mechanics, and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way (BMWED), which represents the train engineers. “CSX is committed to listening to our railroaders and working with their representatives to find solutions that improve their quality of life and experience as employees,” explained the company in a recent statement. “These agreements demonstrate that commitment and are a direct result of the collaborative relationship we are working to cultivate with all of the unions that represent CSX employees. We greatly appreciate the leadership of the BMWED and BRC in working towards these agreements.”
Reportedly, White House officials have been in contact with CSX before it officially released the announcement, read a report from Axios, which cited an administration official. Officials from the Biden Administration — such as Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, and National Economic Council director Brian Deese– have all hounded the issue via phone calls with a number of leaders from CSX, BNSF, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific.
The White House ended up trying to take credit for assisting in the negotiations this past Thursday, saying that its involvement assisted in closing the deal.
“[T]he president signed a bill in December that averted a rail disruption and ensured union members would receive the 24 percent pay raise in their tentative agreements,” stated White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to the gathered press while on Air Force One. “When signing this bill, the president committed to continuing the fight to secure paid sick leave for all workers, including rail workers.”
“These agreements came following continued advocacy and involvement from the Biden administration, pushing railroad leadership to reach an agreement that secured paid sick leave for workers, which continues to be a priority for President Biden,” stated Jean-Pierre. “[T]he agreements between CSX, BMWE, and BRC to provide paid sick days are good steps, ensuring no covered worker has to risk their income to take a day off when they are sick. Securing paid sick leave for rail workers will continue to be a priority for the president. And we are strongly urging other rail companies to follow suit.”