Mayo Pete’s McKinsey training kicked right in as he’ was tasked with keeping the railroad unions from striking. He’s urging the Senate to work in a bipartisan fashion to screw the workers, insisting, on Fox News, that forcing the workers to accept a contact they voted down is the “best way forward,” even if it isn’t for the workers. Isn’t that called union-busting? Or only when Republicans do it? “Where I hope to see it going is bipartisan cooperation to move this quickly through Congress and get it to the president's desk. Look, I don't care what your politics are, America can't have a rail shutdown. There is no substitute for a well-functioning rail system in the country.” There is a substitute, a temporary one… but it isn’t what McKinsey robots are ever taught about… Justice.
Biden and the congressional Democratic establishment came up with a rather transparent way to keep the apparent onus of screwing the workers off themselves— the second bill— glaringly not part of the “must pass” bill, that tossed the workers a few more sick days. Every House Democrat and 3 Republicans voted for it. And that’s the last you’ll ever hear of that inconvenience. It was just some kabuki theater so House Dems can feign solidarity with rail workers. If they really wanted to demonstrate support—actual support— they would have simply said they wouldn’t support the must pass bill without the sick leave provisions included, the way Rashida Tlaib, Mary Peltola, Judy Chu, Mark DeSaulnier and a few others did.
Jake Sherman, writing for Punchbowl this morning made Biden’s mess into a test for progressives, “a public test of their mettle. The question for progressives is this— do they fight or do they fold? Progressive lawmakers are furious that the deal the White House cut with railroad companies” gives the workers just one measly day of sick leave.
There are a few Senate Republicans siding with the progressives, especially senators in states where the railroads are a lifeline, like Wyoming and North Dakota. And then you’ve got pretend populists like Marco Rubio and Josh Hawley making noises about supporting workers. “So now, just a week before a potentially devastating rail strike begins,” wrote Sherman, “progressive senators will have to decide whether to try to vote down the agreement because of what they consider a paltry amount of paid leave. Or will they ratify a deal they claim puts cash-rich railroad corporations ahead of workers? As of now, not a single progressive we spoke to seems committed to the fight. Sanders called it ‘absurd’ that railroads ‘making record breaking profits’ cannot give workers ‘doing dangerous jobs’ paid leave. Sanders only allowed that the Senate ‘will have [a] vote’ on increasing the paid leave to seven days. When asked if he was willing to kill the Biden agreement to force the issue, he said he did not want to speculate. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), a staunch union ally, wouldn’t even entertain the idea that Democrats would have to fight. Read this quote with all the sarcasm intended:
“Republicans … are now the working class party, man. Marco Rubio’s the populist. They’re there, man. They want to help workers. They’re like the Trotskyite Party, man.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has signaled openness to more paid leave for workers, saying he would vote for ‘what the workers support.’ Also: Several Senate Republicans have said they would vote for the Biden-cut deal… How does this story end? Some Senate Republicans have suggested Congress should push off the Dec. 8 strike deadline so the unions and management can find a deal. But at this point, it seems likely that progressive Senate Democrats will have to swallow a rail deal that includes just one day of paid leave. Because Biden asked them to do so.”
Reporting this morning from The Hill:
McConnell told reporters that he’s willing to fast-track the House-passed measure.
Some Republican senators who will do anything to harm Biden politically are opposing helping the Democrats solve the problem
Bernie says he’ll hold up the bill unless he gets a roll call vote on giving workers seven guaranteed sick days. Earlier, he noted that “If the rail industry can afford to spend $25.5 billion this year to buy back its own stock and hand out huge dividends to its wealthy shareholders, please do not tell me it cannot afford to guarantee paid sick days to its workers and provide them with a decent quality of life.”
Unions had asked for 15 days of sick leave but the progressives cut that in half for them as an opening negotiating point with the railroads and conservatives.
When Bernie's bill came up this afternoon it got 52 votes but needed 60. So it failed. Manchin voted against it (the only Democrat to do so). 6 Republicans voted for it-- Mike Braun (IN), Ted Cruz (TX), Lindsey Graham (SC), Josh Hawley (MO), John Kennedy (LA) and Marco Rubio (FL). The rail tycoons lobbied the GOP (and Manchin) furiously to vote no. Manchin says Biden didn't lobby for the Bernie bill. Bernie joked to Cruz after he voted for the bill: "I always knew you were a socialist."
And then Biden's union-busting bill came up for a vote and it passed 80-15, with Rand Paul voting "present." Worker-supporting senators who voted against the bill included Bernie, of course, as well as Jeff Merkley (OR) and Elizabeth Warren (MA). This should now trigger a general strike across the country... but it won't.