Most Americans are just learning of a pending railway worker strike that might paralyze supply chains and cripple the economy. A potential strike starting this Friday could cost the U.S. economy over $2 billion a day while disrupting agricultural transports. This is an issue that may hurt Democrats badly in the fall midterm elections, because the situation is completely avoidable if the Biden Administration and the Democratic controlled Congress takes decisive action.
The Biden Administration has been leading negotiations on a deal, yet they have failed to avoid a strike that will impact access to food and consumer goods for all Americans. CNN reported on September 12, 2022, the following:
The labor dispute that could lead to the first national railroad strike in 30 years could begin as soon as this Friday. About 60,000 union members who work for the railroad are set to go on strike, including the engineers and conductors who make up the two-person crews on each train. Even though 45,000 other union members belong to unions that have reached tentative deals with the railroads, a strike by engineers and conductors would bring the freight rail system, which carries nearly 30% of the nation’s freight, to a grinding halt.
If this strike happens, Democrats will own it. Politico reported that “President Joe Biden has been directly in touch with unions and railroad companies to try to avert a potential strike that is already disrupting freight and passenger service across the country, according to a White House official.” Reports indicate that Biden Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Agriculture Secretary Tim Vilsack all have failed to convince a key leg of the Democratic Party stool, union leaders, to not tank Democrats chances to retain control of the House by striking just before the midterm elections.
President Joe Biden set up a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to negotiate a deal that put on the table a significant increase in wages, back pay, and cash bonuses. That was not enough for a handful of unions who are tanking the deal. There are a number of unions involved in negotiations and the ones representing engineer and conductors are holding out for more. The threat is to disrupt the supply chain for the whole country so they can get a better deal.
Democrats in Congress have promised to pass legislation to extend a deadline, an act within Congress’ power, if a deal can’t be reached. This is a test to see if the Democratic Party is controlled by moderates or the leftists like progressive Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) with the backing of Squad leader Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). It seems unlikely that the Democrats in the Senate, with Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who just last week rallied with striking British rail workers, will agree to a deal opposed by some union leaders.
This is a classic case of special interests and the extremes of the Democratic Party proving to be the puppet masters of Democrats in the House, Senate, and White House. The October surprise has come early for Republicans, but at a high cost to American voters.