Bloomberg Government – Railroads, Unions Form Rare Alliance Over Sickness Benefit Cuts

A recent article published in Bloomberg Government By Lillianna Byington and Diego Areas Munhoz

  • Nearly 6% cut to some railroader benefits hits post-pandemic
  • Congress faces tough path despite bipartisan support

Stop Cuts to Railroad Workers’ Benefits by Supporting the Railroad Employee Equity and Fairness (REEF) Act

A recent cut in railroad workers’ sickness and unemployment benefits has made bedfellows of usually-adversarial groups—railroad companies and their employees—now pushing Congress to fix an issue that could strain their workforce and the nation’s supply chain it supports.

Legislation to reverse the decrease has bipartisan, bicameral support, but Congress’s emboldened fiscal hawks and packed schedule threaten relief for the workers whom lawmakers have praised in recent years for keeping the economy moving through the pandemic.

“It’s really very frustrating,” Matt Weaver, who has worked on the railroad since 1994, said. “It’s really substantial because we work outside, we’re in the heat, our bodies are beat up, hips, knees, shoulders are beat up by the work we do.”

Unemployment and sickness benefits for railroaders, administered by a federal agency but paid for by the railroads, were sequestered in May when the Covid-19 national emergency tied to the pandemic ended. The benefits were cut 5.7%—marking the only unemployment program cut by the federal government and leaving thousands who use them shortchanged from a program that is paid for entirely by the industry.

Click here to read the full article.