In 2020, Biden called the lack of decent paid sick leave “a national disgrace” — now he’s siding with railroad barons to crush workers seeking those benefits.

By Matthew Cunningham-Cook, Andrew Perez, Rebecca Burns & Julia Rock, The Lever

As a labor dispute between rail workers and railroad companies barrels towards a nationwide rail strike, President Joe Biden is standing with railroad barons to force a deal on workers that not only falls far short of their demands, but also goes against Biden’s own promises to grant reasonable paid sick leave to all Americans.

railroad tracks

The move is the latest and possibly starkest example of the chasm between Biden’s pro-worker rhetoric during his campaign and presidency, and the numerous pro-corporate actions he has taken in the White House.

As part of his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden pledged that he would ensure all workers have at least seven paid sick days. And early in his presidency, he called on Congress to pass a bill that would require companies to let all of their workers accrue at least seven days of paid sick leave per year.

“It’s a national disgrace that millions of our fellow citizens don’t have a single day of paid sick leave available to them,” Biden said in a March 2020 campaign speech.

But this September, Biden reversed course, helping negotiate a deal between railroad bosses and unions that would only grant workers a single paid sick day per year, despite the unions pushing for as many as 15 sick days — a number they were ultimately willing to reduce to as few as four. Now, to avoid a shutdown of the nation’s rail network, he is asking Congress to force that deal on workers who voted to reject it.

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