Just a quick post to point out the obvious thing that is somehow being completely overlooked. It’s not the railroad workers who are threatening to destroy the US economy, it’s the railroad OWNERS.
Have you ever been sick? Almost certainly yes. Did you know in advance you were going to be sick? Maybe, but usually not. Did you ever miss work because you were sick? Probably. Should you be forced to go to work when you’re sick? Hell no.
Most employers allow their workers a certain number of days in which they can call in sick. Most employers would rather you stay home when you’re sick rather than come to work and either infect other workers or spend the day shuffling between your work and the toilet.
Right now, railroad workers don’t get any sick days. None. Zero. They’re allowed to take vacation days if they’re sick BUT they have schedule their vacation days in advance. That’s fine if you’re scheduling surgery (SPOILER: No, it’s NOT fine to be forced to spend your holiday having surgery, I mean Jesus suffering fuck, people), but you can’t schedule the flu or tripping and breaking your arm. Sometimes random shit just happens.
The obvious question is: Why in hell won’t railroad companies give their workers sick leave?
The obvious answer is: Greed.
Look, the railroads can afford to give their workers sick leave. There are seven major North American railway companies. Last year they had a combined net income of US$27 billion. During the pandemic, the railroad industry used the funds provided by the government to buy back about $125 billion of its own stock. These fuckers are rolling in dough.
The 115,000 railroad workers without sick leave make a decent wage or a decent salary, but they’re NOT rolling in dough. And sometimes they get sick or hurt and need a day off to go see a goddamned doctor. They ought to be able to do that without fear of losing their job or having their wages cut. Railroad work is hard, tough, often dangerous work; they deserve better than this.
The same is true of every worker. Yet there are LOTS of employers who refuse to offer paid sick leave. Most of these involve low hourly wage workers, the people who most need paid sick leave, who can least afford to take an unpaid day off work. The railway owners may be the most egregious greedheads in the news today, but about 20% of the US labor force–say about 33 million workers–don’t have access to paid sick leave. The US is the ONLY developed country that refuses to offer guaranteed sick leave.
So when you read about a possible railroad strike crippling the US economy, remember that it’s the greedy motherfuckers who own the railroads who are at fault. Not the workers.