Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Railroaded Unions (The New Afghanistan Fiasco)

Stop that Train
I wanna get on
Famously, and incorrectly, it was claimed at least Mussolini made the trains run on time.  Much like his ideological descendent Trump this was a bit of fascist propaganda and the truth was Il Duce lackey's told him things to keep him placated.

The United States House of Representatives voted today 290-137 to avert a December 9th railway strike and impose the compromise contract previously brokered by President Biden's  emergency board led by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh President Administration between the Unions and Railroads. 

Railroads and workers in America are an outlier in modern American labor.  It was no accident, the vicious Ayn Rand choose a railway as the business her female protagonist owns.  Rand pined for the days of the rapacious billionaire, the consolidation of businesses and the power they had over workers was untrammeled and resulted in brutal Wage Slavery until those evil government bureaucrats interfered with their "anti-trust" laws.  In my Gen-X history classes wedged between the end of the Civil War and the glory of the World Wars was the small section on the glided age of Robber Barrons and the terrible working conditions from children in mines to garment workers and railmen, including stories of linemen, signal maintainers, and engineers getting their arms cut off or mangled by trains and being unceremoniously fired by the Railways.  Murderous working conditions and lack of retirement benefits pushed the FDR administration to pass multiple pieces of legislation separate from the Social Security system in the 1930's.  The Railroad Retirement Board is an independent agency of the Executive Branch of the US Government.

The current situation seems unbelievably ridiculous and a throw back to 19th century working conditions. Currently, railroad workers have no paid sick days and are reportedly terminated if they take a single leave of absence.

But, the CBS news story I highlighted earlier choose to end their story with this quote, "The 'most labor-friendly president in history' has proven that he and the Democratic Party are not the friends of labor they have touted themselves to be," Conductor Gabe Christenson said.  And numerous media pieces seem to focus on President Biden's role in requesting Congress intervene in a shocking attack on Unions and the working man and his role in averting an earlier confrontation by forcing a compromise contract which 4 of the 12 Railroad Unions rejected.

What I could see happening is a repeat of the End of Afghanistan, where the media works overtime to try and pin blame on President Biden.  And then repeatedly calling the Afghanistan pullout a disaster, fiasco, or failure.  Fortunately or sadly, I don't think this will happen because Americans don't really care about railroads or union contracts.  But, it does highlight how Democratic Administrations are often placed in untenable situations by years of neglect and subversion of the Federal Government by Republicans.

Because that is how Republicans operate at the Federal Level.  The GQP has run on a platform of Government doesn't work since at least Ronnie Raygun and when they get into office they undermine the government to proclaim the were right about government not working all along.  So, Democratic Presidents and Congresses find themselves in the thankless task of keeping the trains running by forcing the workers to accept a contract.

But, while Republicans seemingly aren't willing to be seen as halting the trains, the anti-American Republican Party is damn sure against giving workers more sick leave.  Because after the first vote to impose the contract, Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a second vote to provide more sick leave for railroad workers and 207 (out of 213) House Republicans voted no.

Republicans feel confident this vote against workers won't get the media coverage as the Corporate Media tries to push the Biden Hates Unions and working class people narrative.

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