Buttigieg Vacationed in Europe as Rail Unions Were on Verge of Strike

As rail contract negotiations entered a period of crisis in September, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg phoned in from over 3,500 miles away during a vacation in Porto, Portugal, a posh tourist destination best known for its wine production, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

Buttigieg quietly jetted off to Portugal on Aug. 29, a week before Amtrak began canceling all long-distance trips in preparation of a potentially catastrophic rail strike. The Labor Day weekend travel was a “long-planned personal trip,” a Department of Transportation spokeswoman told the Free Beacon, and Buttigieg “remained available and engaged” from Europe.

Hot attractions in Porto include the 18th century Clérigos Tower and the Sé do Porto cathedral. For those who wish to enjoy all the libations Portugal offers, tourists can also spend a day in Porto’s sister city Gaia and peruse its celebrated wine cellars.

“As usual, while traveling on personal time he remained available and engaged on urgent issues, which in this case meant multiple calls with staff and stakeholders to work on the topic of rail labor negotiations,” the spokeswoman said. Buttigieg returned to the States on Sept. 5, as rail worker unions began prepping for a strike that would have had catastrophic economic consequences.

News of Buttigieg taking a vacation at a time of high-stakes negotiations in the transportation industry comes as he faces anger from rail worker unions over the results of those contract negotiations. Unions’ chief demand of paid sick leave was absent from the final contract, which was not reached through an agreement but rather forced through by federal law earlier this month. Though President Joe Biden tapped Buttigieg as one of the administration’s leaders for negotiations, the ambitious politician appeared more concerned with campaigning and fundraising for Democratic candidates in the lead-up to the midterm elections than with securing benefits for the unions.

Now it appears that attending his vacation in Europe was also higher on his priority list.

The trip gives fuel to critics who say the administration has abandoned blue-collar workers who helped put Biden in office. Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.), who voted against the rail contract and has urged his party to capitalize on the administration’s failed negotiations, said Buttigieg’s decision to fly to Portugal was “a joke.”

“Pete Buttigieg will take paid vacation in Europe for days on end but doesn’t think rail workers should get more than one day of sick leave,” Hawley

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