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Press Release | November 29, 2022

Biden Must Not Override Rail Workers If He Is A Pro-Worker President

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Biden Must Not Override Rail Workers If He Is A Pro-Worker President

 Max Moran, moran@therevolvingdoorproject.org

In response to President Joe Biden calling on Congress to pre-emptively break a potential railway worker’s strike, without granting the workers their request of any paid sick days per year, Revolving Door Project Executive Director Jeff Hauser issued the following statement:

“President Biden has strained to rekindle working people’s support for the Democratic Party. To his great credit, he has appointed genuine labor champions at the National Labor Relations Board and other independent labor agencies.”

“However, by calling to override the will of organized railway workers, without granting any of their demands, Biden risks undermining that hard work’s legacy. Unless he reverses course, he threatens to reignite distrust of the Democratic Party among workers nationwide.”

“If Democrats turn on a unionized workforce which did everything right in a struggle for basic dignity, the entire labor movement will see and remember. Rank-and-file union members have voted more and more for Republicans, sometimes including the most extreme MAGA Republicans, in recent years. This is due, in no small part, to too many broken promises and too little respect paid to labor by successive Democratic administrations.”

“Being a pro-labor president does not just mean taking photographs with workers or recounting family anecdotes about manual labor in speeches. It means supporting workers’ ability to choose their own futures and to stand up to the bosses that oppress them. The absolute minimum which a pro-labor president should do is listen when rail workers say that the contract his administration negotiated did not deliver what they need.”

“The economic harms of a railway strike could indeed be grievous. This is precisely why Biden shouldn’t be urging Congress to punish the workers. If Congress must intercede, Biden should instead ask legislators to pass a better deal, including the necessary sick leave, as some members are calling for already. Moreover, Biden should publicly attack the railway owners’ rapacious greed. Corporate rail shareholders can live without a few extra millions in dividends, but rail workers should not be forced to live without sick leave.”

“Biden has defended his approach by noting that the initial contract, which workers struck down, was negotiated in good faith. This is irrelevant. Workers choosing to vote down the contract is also a good-faith act, and a perfectly legitimate part of the bargaining process, as any truly pro-labor president should know and respect.” 

“Democrats defied the historical odds to duel Republicans to a draw in the midterms not even one month ago. Embracing economic populism and strong support for unions was a necessary component of their winning strategy. Do Democrats want voters to think that was all a lie?”

“Biden should instead fight to give rail workers what they need, and aim the full force of the federal government where it should have been aimed all along: at the greed of the rail bosses.”


PHOTO CREDIT: “47827 47205 Reading MPD – Rail Strike 21.06.89” by Paul David Smith – Epping is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

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