Manchin slammed for rejecting paid leave for union workers who 'helped build the state’s economy'

Manchin slammed for rejecting paid leave for union workers who 'helped build the state’s economy'
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Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is facing deep criticism for voting to strike down a proposed piece of legislation that would provide paid leave benefits for railroad unions.

The centrist lawmaker, who represents a state built on unions, cast his vote on Thursday, December 1 as rail workers threaten to take action in an effort to raise awareness about their concerns.

"Four out of 12 rail unions—representing the majority of rail workers—have been threatening to strike, after a labor deal brokered by President Joe Biden failed to meet their demands for paid sick leave," The New Republic has reported. "Workers currently get zero paid sick days. Biden, who has touted himself as a 'pro-labor president,' called for Congress to impose the deal anyway and block the strike, saying it would cause too much economic damage."

READ MORE: 'Reckless and dangerous': Manchin unveils full text of 'shameless handout to the fossil fuel industry'

Out of all Senate lawmakers, six Republican lawmakers voted with Democrats in favor of the bill. Manchin was the only Democratic lawmaker to vote against the bill.

However, the news outlet notes that although Manchin has developed a reputation for consistently going against President Joe Biden's proposed initiatives, the president also did not aggressively push for the bill despite its success among House lawmakers.

Speaking to reporters, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre weighed in on the president's perspective of the bill. “The President of course, of course he supports paid sick leave for all Americans, including rail workers, but he does not support any bill, or amendment, that will delay getting this bill to his desk by this Saturday,” Jean-Pierre said.

New Republic's Tori Otten went on to explain why Manchin's vote is such so critical. "Manchin’s votes sting even more considering his state’s long history with union labor," Otten wrote. "Although union membership in West Virginia is currently about 10.7 percent, a little lower than the national average, the state’s unions are still strong for a right-to-work state."

READ MORE: Robert Reich: It’s no secret — Joe Manchin represents the monied interests and nobody else

From a historical perspective, Otten emphasized, "West Virginia union workers helped build the state’s economy—particularly in coal mining—and have a long history of agitating for better working conditions."

Union leaders have also shared critical reactions to Manchin's vote. “While rail workers won significant wage increases and other important gains today, it’s deeply disappointing that 43 senators sided with multibillion-dollar rail corporations to block desperately needed paid sick days,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler in a statement.

Sean O’Brien, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, also tweeted his concerns about the Senate's troubling political dynamic.

“The fact that there are not 60 senators willing to stand up to Big Business and fight for basic rights for U.S. rail workers is horrific,” O'Brien tweeted. “Every senator who voted NO may not have a spine but at least they still have unlimited sick days. I’m looking at [Manchin] and 42 other cowards.”

READ MORE: 'That’s a lie. A pure outright lie': Joe Manchin corrects false Fox talking point about inflation bill

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