Matt Weaver, a top rail union official, says many of his members don't want to strike, but "we want what's just."
"I honestly don't think we are that near a strike," he said Tuesday on "CNN This Morning." Weaver is the legislative director for Ohio for the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division. The BMWED is one of the labor unions representing rail workers.
He added: "Many of our members don't want a strike. We don't want to strike."
"In this day and age of high inflation and a pandemic around illness, we would like paid sick days."
The BMWED is the third largest railroad union, according to The Associated Press.
"It's paid sick days that many of Ways Employees need," Weaver said.
He maintained that union members are considered both "essential" and "expendable" by railway management.
Union President Tony Cardwell said in October that the railroads didn't do enough to address worker concerns about the lack of paid time off — particularly sick time.
"Railroaders are discouraged and upset with working conditions and compensation and hold their employer in low regard. Railroaders do not feel valued," Cardwell said in a statement. "They resent the fact that management holds no regard for their quality of life, illustrated by their stubborn reluctance to provide a higher quantity of paid time off, especially for sickness."
President Joe Biden has called on Congress to pass a bill to keep the rails running.
Congress should act "immediately to adopt the Tentative Agreement between railroad workers and operators — without any modifications or delay — to avert a potentially crippling national rail shutdown," Biden said Monday,
And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., predicted the House will get it done.
"This week, the House will take up a bill adopting the Tentative Agreement — with no poison pills or changes to the negotiated terms — and send it to the Senate," Pelosi wrote in a statement, The Hill reported.
And the news outlet said that without an agreement, a strike could begin as early as Dec. 9.
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