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In Railroad Labor Dispute, Biden Sides with the Bosses
The Government is Immiserating Workers for Capitalist Profit.
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On Monday, President Biden released a statement calling on Congress to codify a Tentative Agreement between railroad unions and companies. Congressional leaders have already signaled they will support the President’s request.
The possibility of a strike has been looming for the better part of the year, as major unions and companies have been in contentious contract negotiations. Eight unions have already voted to accept the Tenant Agreement, with the remaining four poised to strike on December 9th if their demands aren’t met.
The primary issues of this dispute are the overly-demanding work schedule and the lack of paid sick leave. The deal Congress and the President are trying to shove down workers’ throats would resolve neither of these issues, leaving railroad workers with exactly 0 sick days.
Zero. None. Zilch.
To not offer paid sick days is an absurdity in itself. To not offer it to the very people who risked catching COVID to keep the American economy running during the height of the pandemic is of the highest disrespect.
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Biden even acknowledged this offense in his statement, though he completely avoids the fact that he could fix it by asking Congress to pass a deal including such provisions.
Further on, Biden makes no attempt to hide his motivations for overriding the democratic will of the workers. Christmas is coming, and he’s unwilling to risk the political consequences of even a 1% decrease in Christmas Joy.
Were Congress to codify the Tentative Agreement, it would force railroad employees to work under the deal they rejected. They’d receive a 24% pay increase over five years, but would still be subject to the demanding work schedules that require them to be on-call 24/7.
Not only is this a betrayal of Biden’s ostensible “pro-labor” stance and direct harm to the workers fighting for a better life, but it’s a manifestation of the corrupt rot at the heart of Capitalism.
Socialism is often derided and strawmanned as a system in which the government orders citizens to work in dreary coal mines and unstable power plants. Putting aside my disputes of this argument, this fear of forced labor is exactly what is happening under the supposedly “free” doctrine of American Capitalism.
The government, knowing it needs to keep the trains running to deliver 30% of U.S. goods, is ignoring democracy and ordering laborers into unsafe and inhumane working conditions. This is supposedly the “worst nightmare” of anti-Socialists everywhere, yet I’d wager my life savings the Right Wing stays mute.
It’s no mystery why the railroad companies are unwilling to compromise and offer paid sick leave, a benefit that is table stakes in most jobs. They don’t want to pay for more workers, and, knowing they control a key lever of the American economy, decided to wait for the U.S. Government to step in on their behalf.
Congress could easily ratify a deal that satisfied the workers’ simple requests. (Biden asked them not to, pressing them to adopt the Agreement without “any modifications.”) But as they’ve done since the Founding, and will continue to do absent drastic alterations to America’s socio-political structure, American politicians will wield the power of the State against the people in the defense of Capitalists’ profit.
“Land of the Free” my ass.
Here are some resources for you to learn more about the railroad situation.