Bernie Sanders, Warren Buffett: Give rail workers better conditions to avoid strikes

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ive here. Warren Buffett must be embarrassed early and often. But Obama called Buffett “an example of what’s best in this country” before he became president. Buffett was widely reported as Obama’s best companion in 2011.

Not surprisingly, the Biden administration is not using its bullying platform or influence.

Written by Jake Johnson. Originally published in Common Dreams

With rail workers on the verge of starting a national strike due to awful conditions and a lack of sick days, Senator Bernie Sanders on Tuesday called on billionaire Warren Buffett to step in and ensure that BNSF Railroad – a company owned by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway – offers adequate wages to its employees and quality-of-life policies where no Negotiations are still stalled.

Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote on social media: “In the midst of a potential rail strike, Warren Buffett, owner of the $100 billion BNSF Railroad parent company, must step in.” “During the pandemic, Mr. Buffett has become $36 billion richer. He must ensure that railway workers receive decent wages and safe working conditions.”

Buffett — who famously said “there’s a class war, okay, but it’s my class, the rich class, that starts the war, and we’re winning” — previously rejected Sanders’ requests to intervene on the side of workers in contract disputes involving the billionaire investor’s companies.

Members of several US national rail unions could go on strike Friday as rail carriers refuse to budge from workers’ pressure to change attendance policies that unions say are “ruining the lives of our members.” Both BNSF and Union Pacific Railroad have points-based attendance policies that penalize employees even if they have to take a day off due to a family emergency or doctor’s visit.

“Punishment of engineers and conductors for illness or going to a doctor’s visit with a contract termination should stop as part of the contract settlement,” the heads of SMART Transportation and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen said in a statement on Sunday. “Let’s repeat that, our members are being terminated for falling ill or for attending routine medical visits as we crawl out of a global pandemic.”

Sanders, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and a longtime ally of the labor movement, Highlight Rail workers are battling for better conditions on Tuesday, declaring that “the rail industry, which made $20 billion in profits last year, cannot continue to deny workers paid sick leave.”

“It is unacceptable and dangerous for conductors and engineers to be on call for 14 consecutive days, 12 hours a day, and then fired for going to the doctor,” the senator added.

The Washington Post On Tuesday, it reported that Biden administration officials “have been in regular contact with Greg Abel, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, as they try to find a solution” to avoid a strike whose effects could be widespread. Unions have accused rail giants of involvement in “corporate blackmail” by announcing a ban on certain shipments ahead of the strike.

US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh is Expected to meet With the railway company and union representatives on Wednesday trying to facilitate a last-minute deal.

Meanwhile, Democratic congressional leaders have suggested they may try to intervene to avoid the strike as Republicans say they will push the Senate to vote to force a settlement, a position supported by business groups such as the American Chamber of Commerce. Politico I reported Tuesday.

“I really feel that people don’t appreciate Warren Buffett and his friends shutting down the supply chain to force Congress to authorize 125,000 rail workers to go to work without weekends or sick leave,” chirp work notesJonah Foreman.

Last month, the emergency board created by President Joe Biden presented its recommendations for an agreement between railroad companies and workers, a proposal that included big wage increases.

But work notes It stated that the proposed wage increases were “offset by increases in health care costs – and come in the midst of high inflation”. Nor did the board’s settlement plan address quality of life issues, including attendance policies, that have been central to the years-long dispute.

“Unfortunately, the recommendation of the Presidential Emergency Board erred in this case,” said Jeremy Ferguson and Dennis Pearce, respective chiefs of SMART Transportation and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Training Men. These employment policies have forced thousands of employees to leave the industry and made it impossible to hire new workers. With operations understaffed, these railways abuse their best customers by refusing to make deliveries consistent with their legal obligations.”

“The self-proclaimed giants of the industry constantly complain about regulation and government interference – except now when it comes to breaking the backs of their employees,” the couple added. “It’s time for the federal government to tell the CEOs who run the nation’s railways that enough is enough.”

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