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Letters to the Editor: Biden and the Democrats failed railroad workers -- and handed the GOP an opportunity

A rail yard in Atlanta.
Congress and the White House intervened to avert a strike by rail workers. Above, a rail yard in Atlanta.
(Danny Karnik / Associated Press)
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To the editor: While we certainly didn’t want to see a strike, the capitulation by President Biden and congressional Democrats on sick pay to the railroad companies will most certainly be seen a betrayal of labor.

Instead of forcing unions to accept an agreement imposed on them by Congress, I’m sure the government had arrows in its quiver it could have used to force the oh-so-profitable railroad companies to meet the workers on their reasonable demand for sick leave.

Rest assured, come the next election, the Republicans will make sure to remind union workers and those with even less protection that it was Biden and the Democrats who let them down in 2022.

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John Goodman, Oak Park

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To the editor: Historically, railroad unions are among the oldest and strongest in the country. As a retired human resources professional who has been involved in my share share of labor contract negotiations, I know their employee wage, benefit and retirement packages are the envy of most unions.

If they do not have sick leave benefits for select groups of employees, there must be a negotiated history as to the reason. It would be interesting to know what was the trade-off, and why.

How much of their 24% wage increase would they be willing to exchange for a few paid sick days?

Paul Salerno, Riverside

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To the editor: Once again, columnist Michael Hiltzik presents the real issues behind a story that most news articles don’t include.

In providing the facts of the averted railroad strike — such as record profits for the major railroads, large dividends for shareholders and the lack of paid sick leave for railroad employees — he shows why the onus should have been on the railroads to provide a decent sick leave policy for employees and avoid a strike.

Every worker should have the right to paid sick leave, for their own health and for those around them, particularly in this case because railroad work can be dangerous.

Hiltzik’s column reminds us once again of how big business puts its profits and shareholders ahead of fairness and the welfare of workers.

Bonnie Voland, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Hiltzik’s excellent perspective invites a comparison of the political response to two recent threats to the U.S. economy.

The rail workers’ reasonable position that they should have paid sick leave brought quick action from politicians who claim a strike would hurt the economy, in spite of the fact that the railroads clearly could afford to provide that benefit.

In contrast, the price gouging and record profits by oil companies during the recent gas price spike incited nothing more than a little mild hand wringing by politicians.

Even more ironic is the fact that Democrats, who at least did some of the hand wringing, are fully engaged in this suppression of organized labor. What is the use of a two-party system if neither party will support working people in a conflict with their employers?

John La Grange, Solana Beach


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