President Joe Biden (D) is right, this time, and so are Congressional politicians (assuming they actually can get anything done on this), to move to block the coming railroad strike.
But. But, but, but.
What is the or else here? What enforcement mechanism can the government use to enforce its no-strike diktat against the railroad workers? Not against the unions, but against the rail workers?
It isn’t union leadership, after all, who have rejected the just-negotiated agreements, it’s the rank-and-file, the folks who actually do the work, who’ve rejected the agreement.
How would the government deal with the rail worker equivalent of the Blue Flu?
How would the government deal with another standard union tactic: working explicitly and exactly to the letter of the relevant regulations and the letter of the law about to be imposed on the railroad businesses and labor unions, with the result of a drastic slowdown in work performance?
How would the government deal with an overt strike, where the workers of one or more of the four unions explicitly walk off the job (and the workers of the other unions walk out in solidarity or at the least refuse to cross the picket lines)?
Mass arrests in the latter case? Where would the government find the replacement workers? The rail lines still would be shut down until those replacement workers could be found and hired, assuming anyone qualified actually would be interested.
Certainly, civil action with civil—financial—penalties could be taken, but how much will those matter if the union workers themselves have already determined they have nothing to lose? Their beef, after all, isn’t about higher wages, it’s about the quality of the work environment and work benefits, canonized by the number of sick days allowed.
I’ve seen no evidence that anyone in the Federal government is thinking about a response to the possibility the workers call government’s…bluff(?).