Congress passes anti-strike bill. Paid sick leave provision dies in the Senate.
Resistant liberal Dems cave again under pressure from Pelosi/Schumer
They say that Mussolini’s saving grace was that he made the trains in Italy run on time. I’m in no way comparing Biden and Pelosi with Mussolini. I’ll save that comparison for the former president who loves to dine with fascists. Rather, it’s just my way of saying that keeping the trains rolling is not the end-all and be-all for the supposedly “pro-labor” party that wants to remain in power.
Only eight House Democrats dared to vote against the Biden/Pelosi bill which took away collective bargaining rights, including the right to strike from thousands of rail workers demanding paid sick leave and safer working conditions. Democratic “no” votes included Reps. Judy Chu (Calif.), Mark DeSaulnier (Calif.), Jared Golden (Maine), Donald Norcross (N.J.), Mary Peltola (Alaska), Mark Pocan (Wis.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Norma Torres (Calif.).
Thank you 8!
Where were Chuy Garcia, AOC, and the rest of the Squad (besides Tlaib)? Voting yes, I suppose.
A second bill, more a symbolic gesture than anything meaningful, which would have added a provision to the rail agreement increasing the number of paid sick days from one to seven, passed in the House by a narrow margin of 221-207. But the sick leave amendment, pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, (and ironically by Sen. Ted Cruz) was dead on arrival in the Senate as everyone knew it would be. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s intent here was to allow caucus members to cover their asses by voting for the strike-breaking bill.
After all, if Congress could muster enough votes to pass mandatory paid sick leave, there would be no reason for the strike in the first place.
Pres. Biden made it clear from the beginning that he didn’t want the paid sick leave provision to hold up his bill. Biden had pleaded with Congress to act swiftly, warning of major harm to supply chains that “could disrupt clean drinking water.”
People in Flint, MI answered, “Excuse me!”
The Senate vote was 80-15. Enough Republicans held their noses and voted for the bill despite traditional concerns about interfering in the labor market. But then again, this is not your traditional Republican Party.
The vote was just another way of showing how impotent progressive Democrats are within the party, compared say with Republicrats like Manchin and Sinema. Remember, it was just about a month ago that the progressive signers of the letter calling on Biden to negotiate an end to the war in Ukraine pulled it back under Pelosi’s glare.
Pro-business groups, which aggressively lobbied lawmakers to block the strike breathed a sigh of relief following the Senate vote. But they may be celebrating too soon. There are still lots of irate unionists who argued that railroad executives were refusing to meet their demands because they knew Congress would step in and block a strike and it’s too soon to tell how this sellout deal will go down with the rank-and-file rail workers or whether wildcat strikes or other job actions lie ahead.
It’s also too soon to know how all this will move working-class voters in the next election.
Mike Klonsky's Edu/Pol is a reader-supported publication. If you want more of my take on labor struggles, become a free or paid subscriber.