The United States House of Representatives passed two key labor-related resolutions today: one aimed at averting a crippling strike and one that would provide railroad workers with paid sick leave, addressing worker unhappiness with the deals reached at the bargaining table with big, profitable companies like BNSF.
House Joint Resolution 100, providing for a resolution with respect to unresolved disputes between railroads represented by the National Carriers’ Conference Committee of the National Railway Labor Conference and a significant number of their employees, passed with 290 yea votes and 137 nay votes.
House Concurrent Resolution 119, introduced by the Pacific Northwest’s own Peter DeFazio of Oregon, would amend H.J. Res 100 to provide for paid sick leave for railroad workers. It was approved by a vote of 221–207.
If the Senate signs off on the proposed modification to the labor agreement, President Biden could sign the new terms into law and obligate railroads to provide sick leave to their workers, which they should have simply agreed to do in the first place in negotiations, obviating the need for congressional intervention.
“Time is of the essence,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi before the vote.
“We must act now. I urge a strong bipartisan ‘yes’ vote on both adopting the Tentative Agreement and securing additional paid sick leave.”
“In doing so, we will give our families and businesses confidence that the American economy will remain resilient and strong. And we’ll move to enhance the dignity and economic security of many hardworking Americans who keep our nation on the move. Our nation’s hopes, really, are riding on this vote.”
Voting Yea for the Resolution: Democratic Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, and Marilyn Strickland (WA), Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader (OR); Republican Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse (WA), Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson (ID)
Voting Nay Against the Resolution: Democratic Representative Mary Peltola (AK); Republican Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), Cliff Bentz (OR), Matthew Rosendale (MT)
Voting Yea for the Resolution: Democratic Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, and Marilyn Strickland (WA), Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, and Kurt Schrader (OR), Mary Peltola (AK)
Voting Nay Against the Resolution: Republican Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dan Newhouse, Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), Cliff Bentz (OR), Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson (ID), Matthew Rosendale (MT)
With regard to the two resolutions’ prospects in the Senate, Punchbowl News commented in this morning’s AM newsletter:
Across the Capitol, it seems as if the tentative agreement could pass the Senate – as long as every Democrat votes yes.
But senators on both sides of the aisle told us they think it’s possible that the paid-sick leave portion could potentially pass as well. The issue of supporting more than 115,000 railroad workers cuts across party lines, making a vote count hard to predict.
Yet the prospect of the paid leave element gaining congressional approval has railroad operators on edge, sources told us Tuesday evening. A number of Senate Republicans do appear open to an increase in paid sick leave from one day to seven days.
If the paid sick leave portion fails in the Senate, the underlying rail agreement could still go to Biden’s desk without returning to the House for another vote.
Pro-labor senators like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Jeff Merkley can be counted upon to do their utmost to get the paid sick leave language approved. But will there be enough votes to ultimately get it adopted?
We hope so, and we’ll be urging senators to take a stand for paid sick leave for railroad workers. They need it and deserve it. All American workers do. The big, profitable railroad companies can afford to do right by their workers. Since they won’t do so voluntarily or even through the collective bargaining process, it’s entirely reasonable that Congress use its authority to make them.