Nate Jackson / December 2, 2022

Democrat Interests Finally Align With America

Congress pass and Joe Biden will sign legislation averting a disastrous railroad union strike before Christmas.

It’s highly unusual that Democrat interests align with those of our nation. They’ve decimated our military, ruined our schools, corrupted our elections — you name it, whatever Democrats want is usually bad for America, and whatever they oppose is generally good for America.

So when Democrats actually do something to help the nation, it’s big news. Such is the case with averting the railroad strike.

Earlier this week, we wrote that Joe Biden was railroading union workers with his call for Congress to pass legislation preventing a strike. Our argument was that Democrats have hurt unions quite a bit, especially in recent years, and that’s ironic given how critical union support has been for Democrats.

Biden is also guilty of spiking the football before he got to the end zone. Back in September, he touted the deal as a win before unions had finished voting on it.

That isn’t to say Biden and congressional Democrats were wrong to block a potential strike, which would cripple supply chains just ahead of Christmas. After all, roughly 40% of long-distance freight volume is carried by rail, and it was estimated that the economic cost of a strike might reach $2 billion per day.

That’s why many Republicans joined the cause and supported a bill to impose the bargaining agreement the Biden administration helped to hammer out. The Senate vote was 80-15, and in the House it was 290-137. Biden plans to sign it today.

Eight of the 12 railroad unions — and a majority of voting members — ratified the deal, but four unions rejected it, jeopardizing the whole thing because no union would cross a picket line.

The deal covers the five years between 2020 and 2024. Negotiations were disrupted by COVID, so the status quo of the last deal endured until now. Union negotiators had already managed to secure major concessions, including a freeze for healthcare copays and deductibles, an added paid personal day, and a 24% raise, which is a record under national bargaining. According to National Review, “Average annual total compensation (including benefits) for freight-rail workers is $135,700. Approval of the deal would increase it to about $160,000.”

Yet four unions still rejected that generous offer, and Senate Democrats led by Bernie Sanders even tried but failed to rewrite the deal to add seven paid sick days to it. It’s never enough for some people.

“Mr. Biden had a choice,” wrote the editors of The Wall Street Journal. “Side with the special interests of four recalcitrant rail unions, or do what’s best for millions of American workers and consumers in the broader economy. He chose right.”

Others disagree. “By now everyone should realize nothing good happens when Congress gets involved in issues best left to the private sector,” said Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio. “But our involvement in this debate was inevitable once the Biden administration, freight rail companies, and labor leaders negotiated a deal rail workers themselves did not support. One of the most confusing aspects of this debate is how the union members — some of the hardest-working men and women in the country — were left behind by their union bosses.”

He has a point, and we’d certainly prefer to have seen this end without Congress or the president. However, as we already noted, union workers come out pretty well, and the national interest is that the trains keep running, preferably on time. It’s a relief to see Democrats finally promoting something of national interest.

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