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Today Is A Really Bad Day For Congressional Democrats-- And For America

As Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic establishment puts the finishing touches on transferring congressional power— with no debate and no issues discussed (and with no public vote)— to a corrupt corporate hack and lackey of Wall Street and AIPAC today, the Democrats were also undermining the American working class in a way you might only expect the GOP to do. The right to strike is not about the convenience of anyone; it’s about injustice and it’s an inalienable right. Pelosi and the congressional Democrats know that and they’re stabbing the working class in the back. When I asked him, Alan Grayson seemed a little dismayed that it’s come to this. “I thought that we resolved this a long time ago with President Truman and the Steelworkers Strike,” he told me yesterday. “You can’t force people to work. That really is un-American. The right to collective bargaining is just as important as any other human right.” You know you’re screwing up when even Marco Rubio is outflanking you to the left.

Late last night, the NY Times reported that “Pelosi said the House would vote Wednesday on a tentative agreement that Biden’s administration had helped negotiate between rail companies and the unions earlier this year. The agreement raised wages but lacked provisions for paid medical or family leave. Late Tuesday, facing substantial frustration among progressives who demanded that the offer include paid leave, Pelosi said she would also bring up a separate proposal to add seven days of paid sick leave to the agreement. It is unclear whether Republicans in the Senate would agree to such an addition, but the plan to hold a vote illustrated the degree of discontent among pro-union liberals about the agreement Biden had struck. ‘They demand the basic dignity of paid sick days. I stand with them,’ Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, said on Twitter. ‘If Congress intervenes, it should be to have workers’ backs and secure their demands in legislation.’”

Patriotic Millionaires sent out a press release yesterday that Democrats may find unpalatable: “Biden and Congress Are Siding with Billionaires Over Rail Workers.” The current “offer,” which Congress plans to force the unions to accept today fails to provide rail workers with adequate paid and flexible sick leave. This is the statement by Morris Pearl, chair of Patriotic Millionaires:

“President Biden is siding with billionaires over rail workers. By calling on Congress to force rail unions to accept an unacceptable deal, Biden is saying that these essential workers have to suffer to preserve the profits of the railroad industry and its billionaire owners.
No one wants a rail strike to cripple our nation’s economy, but forcing workers to accept a deal they have voted against is not the only solution. If Biden were as pro-union as he claims to be, he could have called on Congress to improve the contract for workers and force railway management to accept it. He did not do that.
If Congress votes to force rail workers to accept the current deal, they will be doing a massive disservice to workers who deserve fair compensation and adequate sick leave. By choosing to ram through this terrible deal, Joe Biden and Democratic leadership in Congress are betraying the rail unions and taking the side of billionaires like Warren Buffet, whose company Berkshire Hathaway owns BNSF, one of the largest railways in America.
Billionaire railway owners like Warren Buffett have held the American economy hostage by refusing to concede to rail worker demands, and now the federal government is going to give them exactly what they want. Buffett is being rewarded for playing chicken with the American economy.
If Buffett and these multi-billion dollar rail companies were to meet unions where they are and include the bare minimum number of paid sick days, it would only cost them a small fraction of their massive profits. If Congress is going to act to avert a strike, they need to protect workers, not rail company profits.”

Can Bernie save the day?

Andy Levin is, arguably, the most pro-union member of the House. I’d expect nothing less from him than the statement he sent out yesterday: “The rail companies are presenting America with a false choice: accept a work stoppage or accept a contract rejected by thousands of workers. How about this: Congress can prevent a work stoppage by listening to the workers and adding a modest amount of paid sick leave to the deal.”

Chicagoland Democrat and transportation policy expert Marie Newman is another Member of Congress who has no intention of abandoning working families. “I absolutely will not support any agreement or legislation,” she told me yesterday, “until Paid Leave is included. I stand with workers and passengers, not greedy corporations. Period.” Judging by a tweet from newly elected Austin congressman Greg Casar, he's thinking along the same lines.

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