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NEWS: Sanders Demands Paid Sick Days for Rail Workers

Following the deal reached this week with CSX, Sanders calls on remaining rail companies to take urgent action in new letter

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 – At a press conference on Thursday with union leaders and rail workers, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, demanded rail companies provide their workers with at least seven paid sick days.

Sanders was joined by Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) who voted for the amendment to guarantee sick days to rail workers and representatives from SMART-TD, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes, the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, and the National Association of Chemical Distributors.

“The executives in the rail industry and their investors on Wall Street are doing phenomenally well and have never had it so good,” Sanders said, citing the fact that last year the six rail companies – Union Pacific, BNSF, Canadian Pacific, Canadian National, Norfolk Southern, and Kansas City Southern – made more than $22 billion in profits. “Guaranteeing 7 paid sick days to rail workers would cost the entire industry just $321 million – less than 1.2 percent of their profits in a single year. So, you know what I believe? If the rail industry can afford to spend over $20 billion on stock buybacks and hand out huge dividends to their wealthy shareholders, they can afford to provide rail workers with at least 7 paid sick days.”

Following announcements by CSX Transportation, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes, and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen this week that they reached agreements to provide paid sick leave each year to its rail workers, yesterday Sanders sent a letter calling on the remaining major rail companies to follow suit and guarantee paid sick days to their workers.

“As the Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, I hope very much that you will do this voluntarily as soon as possible.” Sanders wrote. “I look forward to discussing this issue with you at a hearing I will be holding in the near future.”

Read the full letter here.