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Senate votes to avert railway disruption, blocks paid sick leave

Yahoo Finance labor reporter Dani Romero details the latest developments surrounding Congress' legislative action taken to quell concerns over a potential railway strike.

Video Transcript

DAVE BRIGGS: Breaking news now out of Washington, the Senate voting to avert a rail strike, but rejecting legislation to increase paid sick leave for those rail workers. Yahoo Finance's Dani Romero joins us with the details. Dani, what are we learning?

DANI ROMERO: Well, this is not good. And just on background, I just got off the phone with a union representative that says that this will actually put-- will grow-- will cause a growing pressure because now the unions didn't get what they wanted. The Senate voted against this bill of paid sick leave. The final score was 52, yes, 43, no. And 60 voted-- they needed 60 votes to pass, excuse me.

But two other bills were passed that included a deal to block the railroad strike. And again, this now means that the union has won a day of personal leave, no sick day leave days. But it's worth noting that in Biden's tentative deal, there's a big loophole. And that goes back to the medical leave care aspect, which requires them to, if they are going to go on medical leave, they can only take days off on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and they need to have 30-day notice.

So, again, this is not very good for the unions because they did not get what they wanted. It's going to cause possibly some work stoppages. I mean, they'll probably slow down. That's what I've been hearing from experts that it could cause, that they might say, hey, call in. Say, you know, I'm not going to come in, or things like that, but again, they can be easily replaced now, now that these bills are going to move forward and they have to get to the president's desk now.

SEANA SMITH: Dani, are there any options left on the table just in terms of what the unions could potentially do in the future to push for more sick paid leave?

DANI ROMERO: Well, from what I'm hearing is that this-- it's a five-year agreement. And they have three years to retract. So that means they'll be back to the negotiating table in two years. So essentially, yes, they didn't get what they wanted, but they will be going back to the negotiating table right now.

But again, it also brings this-- another topic of now that the Biden administration has a heavy hand in this, the Biden administration runs the risk of possibly losing some pro-union support now.

DAVE BRIGGS: Yes and no. I mean, where are the unions going to go, right? They're probably not going to run to the right here in '24. Maybe turnout is impacted. And at the end of the day, they got a 24% pay raise. How many Americans, how many unions--

DANI ROMERO: But it's not about that, though.

DAVE BRIGGS: --negotiated that?

DANI ROMERO: But it wasn't about that, though. They really wanted the quality of life balance, which we essentially, us workers as well want, too. So, you know, I mean, you want to get paid for your sick days, too, right, or when your son or your daughter gets sick. I'm sure you want to be able to say, hey, you know what? I can't come into work today. I got to stay home. So, you know, and there are-- they were our frontline workers as well. They're our essential workers. I take the train. Dave, do you take the train?

DAVE BRIGGS: I sure do.

SEANA SMITH: Hours each day.

DAVE BRIGGS: Two hours a day, my friend. 10 hours a week.

SEANA SMITH: Yeah, but it was-- I guess it was a slight win for the group, but not the full win that they--

DANI ROMERO: That they are essentially, but--

SEANA SMITH: --are hoping to get.

DANI ROMERO: And essentially, they are going to go back to the negotiating table in two years. So I mean, yes, there is some stake now, like I said, that they could be causing some form of a stoppage. Obviously, not a big stoppage, but they could be easily replaced, too. But again, they also will need workers. So if you do have-- who's going to replace them, essentially?

SEANA SMITH: Yeah, we will see how this all plays out. All right, Dani Romero, thanks so much for jumping on here.