Connect with us

Politics

‘Political pawns’: Livid railway workers warn Biden’s union agreement will ‘definitely’ impact next election

Source image: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/political-pawns-livid-railway-workers-warn-bidens-union-agreement-will-definitely-impact-next-election

The nation’s third-largest rail union and rail workers are looking ahead and vowing not to forget who stood by them during their fight for paid sick leave, and some even warn that President Biden’s push for Congress to intervene will have negative consequences.

The outrage follows a vote by Congress on three measures relating to the rail worker demands, including one which the Senate passed in an 80-15 vote codifying an agreement negotiated by the White House and 12 of the nation’s rail unions.

Clark Ballew, the director of communications for the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (BMWED), the third-largest rail union in America, told Fox News Digital that the union will not forget who stood alongside of them as they fought for paid sick leave days.

“You can damn well bet that railroaders took note of who stood with us and who failed to support the basic common decency of paid sick days,” Ballew said.

BIDEN SIGNS BILL FORCING RAIL UNIONS TO ACCEPT AGREEMENT, AVERTING CRIPPLING STRIKE

President Biden signed into law on Friday the legislation to avoid a railroad workers strike, concluding that the measure avoided "what could have been a real disaster."

President Biden signed into law on Friday the legislation to avoid a railroad workers strike, concluding that the measure avoided “what could have been a real disaster.”
(Chip Somodevilla, Mario Tama via Getty Images)

David, a rail worker represented by a local chapter of SMART-TD who did not want to provide his full name out of fear of retaliation, suggested that Biden could suffer consequences in the next election.

“This will definitely have an effect on the next elections, I think, because Biden’s slowly showing the true colors,” David said. “I’ve always known he is only looking for votes, but several unions and members are just now realizing that. If he really cared, wanted to show that he cared about the work that we’re doing and some of the sacrifices we have had to make, he should have stayed out of this or fought harder. I didn’t want a strike, I know how bad it would be for the economy, but right is right and we need the sick leave days. The unions and rail companies have got to figure out how to work together on this sorta thing.”

“This isn’t for Congress to decide,” he said. “Whether you’re for unions or not, we railroad workers should not have to continue the harsh conditions we are subjected to. Paid sick leave is a simple ask. For Congress not to be able to reach an agreement for some of the hardest-working people I know is just sad. I appreciate those that stand up for us, though, and even voted in support of sick days to be included.”

Asked whether he believes President Biden’s call for Congress to involve itself in negotiations between railroad companies and the unions was a betrayal of the pro-union message that he has long touted, Ballew, who is also a member of BMWED Local Lodge 153 in Richmond, said, “The president’s decision to throw our bargaining round to Congress was not unexpected. We’ve been down this road before. It’s how the Railway Labor Act proceeds.”

Though some of workers’ demands were met, they had held out hope on the sick leave could be added. “We felt like paid sick time off was an important omission and not an especially rapacious ask,” Ballew said.

 “Because of the 60 vote threshold in the Senate, we also know who likely cast a token vote in our favor yesterday because they knew they were insolated from its passage. There was buffer room there for certain politicians who have never supported our cause before to get a ‘freebie’ there, but railroaders are not dumb. We see that kind of deception everyday from our bosses on the railroad; we don’t fall for that,” Ballew told Fox News.

Shipping containers at a Union Pacific rail terminal in City of Industry, California, US, on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022.

Shipping containers at a Union Pacific rail terminal in City of Industry, California, US, on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022.
(Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Ballew said congressional intervention “could have easily been prevented if these miserly Class 1 railroads would have come to the table genuinely ready to negotiate paid sick leave rather than wait for Congress to bail them out.”

“All of this was preventable and only came to pass because the railroads can’t part from their antiquated labor-management practices and advance into modern societal times to afford a person the occasional day to address sickness when it strikes them or their family. A paid sick day is not a novel concept,” he added.

President Biden signed into law on Friday the legislation to avoid a railroad workers strike, concluding that the measure averted “what could have been a real disaster.”

The newly enacted law codifies a July deal negotiated by rail unions and the Biden administration that would raise workers pay by 24% over a five-year period from 2020 through 2024, including an immediate payout on average of $11,000 upon ratification.

The agreement passed by Congress was approved by eight of 12 transportation unions involved in negotiations. The four dissenting unions, representing about 100,000 rail workers, said the deal was unfair because it included insufficient paid-sick leave time. They had asked for seven paid sick days, but Congress did not include their demand in the bill, despite an effort from progressive lawmakers and even some conservatives like Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to amend the legislation.

AOC, RUBIO FIND COMMON GROUND ON RAIL UNION STRIKE: ‘A RARITY’

Freight rail cars sit in a rail yard on November 22, 2022 in Wilmington, California.

Freight rail cars sit in a rail yard on November 22, 2022 in Wilmington, California.
(Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Adam McKellips, a member of the SMART Transportation Division (SMART-TD) local 1289 chapter in Oklahoma, told Fox News Digital that he feels like “we and our families are nothing but political pawns.”

“I work for a Class 1 railroad that implemented one of the most egregious attendance policies (Hi-Viz) that requires us to be available to work 92% of the time per month,” he said. “If we take off one day for a sickness, we are required to [work] 14 days straight to gain points back. That is why we are fighting tooth and nail for sick days.”

McKellips said Democrats could have “easily” included sick leave into the measure but would “rather make a political stunt off the backs of the hardworking ‘essential’ rail workers” instead.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“The Republican Party was never going to accept H. R. 119 in the Senate and that also infuriates our union membership,” McKellips added. “Class 1 railroads have made record profits on the backs of workers through a pandemic, then implement the most egregious attendance policy to keep the ‘essential’ workers on duty to keep the profits coming in.”

Fox News’ Chris Pandolfo contributed to this article.

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/political-pawns-livid-railway-workers-warn-bidens-union-agreement-will-definitely-impact-next-election

Politics

West Virginia House passes bill expanding advocate’s authority

West Virginia’s House of Delegates unanimously passed a bill Wednesday to expand the authority of the state foster care advocate to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect.

Before the 100-member House voted in unison in favor, Deputy House Speaker Republican Matthew Rohrbach said the bill is “really going to help to make this system accountable, which I think is something that everybody in here wants.”

Foster Care Ombudsman Pamela Woodman-Kaehler’s office is located within the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Office of Inspector General. But she works independently as an advocate for foster children and parents, investigating complaints and collecting data about the state’s foster care system.

Her position was created in 2019 when the number of children under state foster care had swelled to about 6,900, up more than 60% from 2015, as the state continued to be ravaged by the national opioid crisis.

WEST VIRGINIA ADVANCES PUBLIC SCHOOL MANDATE ON ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’

She is a former child protective services worker in Harrison County and was the state coordinator for a federally-mandated review panel of the state’s Bureau of Children and Families.

The bill advanced to the Senate Wednesday specifies that Woodman-Kaehler’s office has the authority to investigate deaths, abuse and neglect involving children in the juvenile justice system.

The West Virginia House OKs a bill expanding the states foster care advocates authority. This bill will investigate abuse and neglect allegations.

The West Virginia House OKs a bill expanding the states foster care advocates authority. This bill will investigate abuse and neglect allegations.

The bill also would protect the identities of people providing confidential information during investigations, prohibiting the ombudsman and her staff from being required to disclose information about investigations or identify informants in judicial or administrative proceedings. It makes all memoranda, work product, notes and case files developed and maintained as part of an official investigation confidential, and not subject to discovery, subpoena or other means of legal compulsion.

Woodman-Kaehler told a House Health and Human Resources Committee meeting that the bill would help build trust between her and people reporting abuse and neglect, and encourage more people to come forward with information during sensitive investigations.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“This frees up the ombudsman to give them much more control,” Rohrbach said Wednesday.

Continue Reading

Politics

Indiana Gov. Holcomb’s public health expansion passes legislative panel

The Indiana governor’s proposal for a broad expansion of county-level public health programs won its first endorsement from state legislators on Wednesday.

The state Senate’s health committee voted 12-0 in support of a bill laying out the responsibilities that local health departments would have if county officials accept a major increase in state funding being sought by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box, several medical organizations and business groups urged lawmakers to support the plan, pointing to Indiana’s poor national rankings in areas such as smoking, obesity and life expectancy.

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION EXTENDS COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY YET AGAIN

The governor’s plan would direct $100 million in the next state budget year and $200 million in the following year toward boosting Indiana’s county public health department funding from its 45th-place national ranking. The state now directs about $7 million a year to county health departments, which are primarily funded by local taxes.

While county officials would have the option of accepting the money and expanding services, some opponents with grievances over government-ordered COVID-19 precautions told the committee they feared the plan would result in the state health department gaining more authority.

The bill approved by the committee would establish “core public health services” to be provide by county departments. Those would include access to required childhood vaccinations, emergency preparedness, restaurant and sewage system inspections, communicable disease prevention and smoking cessation programs.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box speaks alongside Gov. Eric Holcomb on the proposed expansion of the state's public health infrastructure

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box speaks alongside Gov. Eric Holcomb on the proposed expansion of the state’s public health infrastructure
(AP Photo /Tom Davies)

A commission appointed by Holcomb found that all but about six of Indiana’s 92 counties are spending less than half the national median per person on public health efforts.

“Where you live in Indiana currently determines whether your local health department can provide you the full range of public health services,” Box told the committee.

Leaders of the Republican-dominated Legislature have generally supported Holcomb’s proposal but have not committed to granting his full funding request. Lawmakers might not make that decision until a new state budget plan is completed in April.

Statewide organizations representing county officials told the committee Wednesday they believed local leaders would keep control by deciding whether to opt into the expansion program or maintain state funding levels.

Some county leaders, however, said they believed the expansion would eventually lead to state control of local health departments.

INDIANA AG FIGHTS COVID-19 MISINFORMATION, POINTS FINGER AT GOVERNMENT HEALTH AGENCIES

“I would prefer the state to provide grants on a topic-by-topic basis with local control on whether to accept the grant or not and how we handle that guidance, not mandates, from the state after the COVID destructive mandates,” said Brad Rogers, a Republican county commissioner from northern Indiana’s Elkhart County.

Senators cited concerns about long-term health problems across the state, while plan opponents who spoke focused on issues such as complaints over federal approval of COVID-19 vaccines and Holcomb’s executive orders early in the pandemic for business closures and a face mask mandate. One opponent argued the plan would lead to what he called more government “tyranny.”

Similar grievances were aired to Indiana lawmakers as they debated a proposal last year that failed to win passage aiming to severely limit the COVID-19 vaccine requirements that businesses could impose on employees.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“We have high infant mortality rates,” Republican Sen. Vaneta Becker of Evansville said as she voted in favor of the health plan Wednesday. “We have high obesity, lots of health issues in the state that need to be addressed.”

Continue Reading

Politics

President Biden’s physical delayed due to travel schedule, White House says

President Biden will receive a physical examination on Feb. 16 after weeks of delays that a spokesperson attributed to a “busy and evolving travel schedule in recent weeks.”

Biden, the oldest president in history, is expected to announce his bid for re-election in the coming weeks. He would be 86-years-old by the end of his second term.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre faced a series of questions on Biden’s physical in the new year and promised a shared report by the end of January.

BIDEN GRABS NBC REPORTER’S HAND AS HE STEPS UNDERNEATH HER UMBRELLA TO ANSWER HER QUESTION

President Biden will receive a physical on Feb. 16 after broken promises from the White House to have one conducted by the end of the past two months.

President Biden will receive a physical on Feb. 16 after broken promises from the White House to have one conducted by the end of the past two months.
(Screenshot/Twitter)

“He will have one before the — by the time the end of this month is out,” Jean-Pierre said in January. “We will share the information. We will have more to share about that before the month is over.”

This followed a promise from Biden himself in November to have a physical conducted by the end of December.

“I’ve gotten my — I will get — part of my physical is already done, and I’ll be getting it before the end of the year,” Biden said.

BIDEN’S FINAL WEEK OF CAMPAIGNING PLAGUED WITH GAFFES: ‘WHAT’S HIS NAME?’

The White House said President Biden's delayed physical is due to his busy travel schedule.

The White House said President Biden’s delayed physical is due to his busy travel schedule.
(Getty Images)

While the White House said the delay is due to his travel schedule in January, Biden spent time at his Delaware properties every weekend that month — 13 days in total. Other travel included Mexico for a summit, then trips to Kentucky, Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, California and New York to tout his policy agenda.

BIDEN DAILY GAFFE AVERAGE: THE PRESIDENT IS BATTING NEARLY A THOUSAND

President Biden last had a physical in November 2021.

President Biden last had a physical in November 2021.
(Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Speculations on Biden‘s health follow the delayed physical, consistent mental gaffes and an eight-hour stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in January as first lady Jill Biden had two cancerous skin lesions removed. The president’s last physical was reported in November 2021 and detailed his prescriptions for high blood pressure and blood thinner treatments.

Continue Reading

Trending