WASHINGTON — Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement on the announcement of a deal reached by House Democrats to advance contract legislation for railway workers that includes paid sick leave, one of the primary asks of worker union negotiators:

“Recent years have put the bottomless greed of America’s largest corporations on display, and railway workers’ fight for a fair contract is no different. Last year, the seven major railway companies in the U.S. and Canada made $27 billion in profits — a $15 billion increase from the previous decade. Six of those repaid wealthy shareholders with a total of $146 billion in stock buybacks and dividends. Under the last contract, worker pay increased by less than 14 percent, while those chief executives doubled their own salaries. The workforce is half its size from 2000, and still the railroads refuse to grant their workers the most basic benefit earned through their labor — paid leave to go see a doctor or care for a sick family member — claiming financial burden.

“Progressives believe every worker is entitled to dignity and respect in the workplace, and has the right to unionize and collectively bargain for better wages and benefits. While rail corporations have amassed billions in profits and reduced their workforces, railway workers are asking for nothing more than paid sick days to look after loved ones and their own health. Progressives have championed paid leave for workers across industries, and we will not abandon that commitment.

“Last night, following productive conversations between Congressional Progressive Caucus members, Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Peter DeFazio (OR-04), and House Leadership, Speaker Pelosi announced a deal that allows our chamber to pass contract legislation for railway workers that includes paid sick leave. Through a House procedure known as ‘enrollment correction,’ we have been able to mandate that any House legislation to codify the existing tentative agreement will be accompanied by legislation that addresses the workers’ long standing demand for fair paid leave. 

“The Progressive Caucus will continue to fight to ensure that all workers have paid sick leave guaranteed and that labor rights are upheld.  I thank Speaker Pelosi and Leadership for their cooperation, and my Progressive Caucus colleagues for their indefatigable advocacy and commitment to workers’ rights.”