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Kudlow: Give The Railroad Folks Their Paid Sick Leave

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While I hate to oversimplify, shutting down the entire American economy over seven paid sick days for railroad workers just doesn’t seem like a good trade-off.

Now, I know, tempers are flaring on all sides of this. I also know that the unions jumped into bed with Joseph Biden before the election to save Democratic scalps — and now they’re scrambling to get out from under the sheets, as fast as they can.

I also know that, as President Biden finds himself alone in bed right now, he is crying out for the lame-duck Democratic Congress to save him. So, yes, the politics here are pretty ugly.

Yet I also know that it’s not the railroad union workers’ fault that the Biden Democrats spent wildly, and that the Federal Reserve printed all that money, and therefore inflation skyrocketed, and therefore what would normally pass for good wage gains has been drowned out by inflation.

So, on the margin, I find myself sympathetic to the railroad unions on this one. Remember: they were deemed essential workers, on-call 24/7, during the worst of the pandemic. So they did their duty.

Also, the Biden deal in September provided them with no paid sick leave days. None. That somehow just does not sound right in common-sense terms.

Now, I don't want to be overly sympathetic even to private sector unions — I am completely unsympathetic to public sector unions — and Mr. Biden, who likes to call himself the “most pro-union president in American history,” has stacked his National Labor Relations Board with pro-union people, always trying to rig elections against employers and in favor of unions. Think Amazon — not good.

What’s more, the unions have gotten all kinds of financial breaks from various Biden spending bills. Completely wrong. Also, I am a strong advocate of worker choice, including right-to-work states, a population that has been growing.

Why should union members have to pay heavy dues to support the left-wing political agendas of their union bosses? The workers usually have good values, while so many of the bosses have turned socialist and pro-Green New Deal — even though it’s going to result in their very members losing jobs. So there’s a lot of craziness here.

Yet, color me very skeptical that the Congress should be interfering with private-sector collective bargaining and imposing a solution. That really borders on denying their right to strike. Sounds a lot like straight-up union-busting.

Now, Congress is apparently falling back on something called the Railway Labor Act of 1926, which has got to be a reach. The thing’s only been used two or three times in the last 100 years. I’d have suggested using a Taft-Hartley injunction, which would have provided an 80-day cooling-off period. That to me would’ve been much better than having Congress imposing its own will.

Another point related to the idea that the railroad workforce was not the culprit behind Mr. Biden’s 40-year high inflation: Republicans going all the way back to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp have tried to make the point that pro-business Chamber of Commerce types or even country club RINOs should not be so fast to blame blue-collar working people.

President Trump helped push the GOP more and more as the blue-collar party of working people of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Perhaps the Chamber of Commerce types should turn their fire on the big-spending Biden Democrats who brought the inflation on in the first place, instead of contributing to their campaign coffers.

Finally, there is a bill in the Senate sponsored by Bernie Sanders, and supported by Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley, that would sign off on the original Biden agreement, provided that there are seven paid sick days in it for the railroad workers.

I kind of like that combo — a socialist with a couple of free-market conservatives. Politics makes strange bedfellows.

Let’s keep the economy open. Give the railroad folks their paid sick leave.

From Mr. Kudlow’s broadcast on Fox Business News.

Larry Kudlow was the Director of the National Economic Council under President Trump from 2018-2021. His Fox Business show "Kudlow" airs at 4 p.m &. and his radio show airs on 770 ABC from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.