Tony Cardwell, the president of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division — International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which voted down the agreement Mr. Biden has asked Congress to impose, said that simply asking Congress to include paid sick days in the agreement would have gone a long way toward satisfying his members.
“If he would have said, ‘I want this one thing,’ it would have changed the whole narrative,” Mr. Cardwell said in an interview on Wednesday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told members on Tuesday night that she would hold a vote on a separate bill that included seven paid sick days, but it was unclear whether it could pass both houses of Congress.
The sense of betrayal is especially acute because Mr. Biden has long portrayed himself as friendly to organized labor, and many union leaders regard him as the most labor-friendly president of their lifetimes thanks to his appointments and his support for regulations and legislation that they favor.
Daniel Kindlon, an electrician who works at a rail yard near Albany, N.Y., and is the head of his local union, said that while he is not a huge supporter of the president, he was impressed when Mr. Biden spoke at the electrician union’s convention in Chicago this spring.
“It was the best 45 minutes I’ve heard him talk,” Mr. Kindlon said. Yet he said he struggled to understand why Mr. Biden couldn’t have pushed Congress to go further.
“You would think he would just try to get them to throw in a couple days of sick time; that’s really all the guys were asking for,” he said.