May 11, 2023

Rep. Payne, Jr. Introduces Bill to Give Rail Workers Paid Sick Leave

Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr., Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials for the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, introduced a bill today to provide seven days of paid sick leave to railroad workers. The bill, the Freight Rail Workforce Health and Safety Act, would allow rail employees to care for their health or the health of a family member without using their allotted vacation time.  The bill would allow railroad workers to have a health benefit provided to millions of working Americans in other professions.  It is co-sponsored by 37 additional members of Congress.  

“Every American worker should have the right to paid sick leave,” said Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. “I am disappointed that the railroad industry did not provide this benefit on their own, especially when you consider it provides this benefit to railroad management.  These workers risked their health during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep food and medicine on store shelves.  They deserve paid leave to care for their own health.  When employees come to work sick, they threaten the health and safety of their co-workers.  This bill would allow them to take care of their health without worrying about their income.”

“Our freight rail workforce should not have to keep our economy moving without having adequate paid sick leave. The Freight Rail Workforce Health and Safety Act would make sure they don’t have to,” said Rep. Rick Larsen, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “This legislation would require Class I railroads to provide seven days of paid sick leave to rail workers so they can recover from illness and take care of their families. As freight railroads make record profits, their workers should not have to decide between a paycheck and their health.”

Seventy five percent of private industry workers have access to paid sick days, including the management at freight railroads.  Instead of offering paid sick leave, freight railroads have spent more than $200 billion in stock buybacks since 2010.