Rail Labor representatives joined Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Senator Mike Braun (R-Indiana) at a press conference in Washington D.C. on February 9 to demand that rail companies provide workers with at least seven paid sick days.
Senator Sanders said that Americans are sick and tired of the kind of corporate greed we are seeing in the railroad industry today. Senator Braun said common-sense measures, like paid sick leave, would help the rail industry retain and attract workers.
Vice President & National Legislative Representative Vince Verna represented BLET at the press conference. He said: “Railroad workers deserve better treatment than they are getting from the railroads right now when they get sick, and they need time off when they’re sick. Right now, employees know they better not get sick. If you do, you’ll be subject to harsh attendance policies that do not allow you to take off sick without fear of reprisal… The railroad CEOs would never work under the conditions they require of their employees when making them choose between their jobs and their health… Let’s make sure America’s freight gets moved by workers who are not sick on the job. Let’s get this fixed.”
In addition to Brother Verna, Rail Labor representatives who spoke at the press conference included: SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson; BMWED President Tony Cardwell; BRS Vice President Doug VanderJagt; and President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO Greg Regan.
Before the press conference, Senator Sanders sent a letter to the CEOs of six Class I railroads (CP, CN, KCS, BNSF, UP, and NS). He urged them to follow the lead of CSX, which on February 8 agreed to give paid sick leave to members of the BMWED and BRC. Senator Sanders makes several excellent points in his letter, and it is recommended that BLET members read it in its entirety (PDF).
A 12-minute video highlighting presentations by Senator Sanders, Senator Braun, and Vice President Verna is available here:
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