Sanders says tentative rail agreement doesn’t go far enough

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says that the tentative agreement between rail management and labor does not go far enough as Congress tries to enact legislation to avoid a strike that could inflict major damage to the economy.

Sanders’s comments come after President Biden called on Congress to take action to avoid the strike, which would begin on Dec. 9 if management and labor negotiators do not agree on a deal.

“I would like to see management come to the table and treat their workers with respect,” Sanders said, according to The Washington Post. “If they don’t, then Congress has got to act to make sure that there is guaranteed sick leave for these workers.”

Sanders said the tentative agreement that Biden backed in September doesn’t go far enough “by any means.”

Management and labor negotiators have agreed to the deal that Biden had thrown his support behind, but four rail unions have rejected it.

The agreement would give workers a 14 percent raise and raise wages and increase medical care for workers whose pay had been frozen.

Tony Caldwell, the head of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, one of the unions that rejected the deal, said his members are demanding better sick leave benefits, but rail carriers have said they are unwilling to negotiate on it, the Post reported.

Caldwell said the union wants four paid sick days, but it has not been offered any.

Biden has said he believes the tentative agreement was reached by both sides acting in good faith, but that he is also concerned about workers not being offered time to recover from sickness or to care for a family member. He said he is working to push for paid leave.

But the president said members of Congress should not push for changes to the deal as they could risk a delay and a “debilitating” shutdown.

If a deal is not made, it would cause the first rail strike in 30 years and could cripple national supply chains already struggling with shortages in goods.

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