Statement of Vermont AFL-CIO President David Van Deusen:
- Democratic Party Fucks Over Rail Workers!
- Rail Workers To Receive ZERO Paid Sick Days!
- Rail’s Right To Strike Outlawed For This Contract Cycle!
U.S. Rail Unions went into this bargaining season with not a single day of paid sick leave in their Contract. Achieving paid sick leave was the top priority of Union members. And today, because of an act of Congress and because of the latest Democratic Party betrayal (the latest in a long line of betrayals), they still have no sick leave.
Every Union member and working class man and woman and child in the United States of America should be livid right now. President Joe Biden (a Democrat), the Democratic Party leadership in the House and Senate, and the vast majority of Democratic (& Republican) Party politicians in the Capital just fucked over Rail workers and sided with the billionaire bosses again. The Rail corporations, after years of record profits, shall not be required to pay workers if they have to miss a day of work due to illness. This is bullshit.
No matter how the Democratic Party apologists try to spin it, Congress had the power to grant Unionized Rail workers paid sick leave, willfully chose to not do so, and then imposed a contract which was voted DOWN by the rank & file of four Unions representing a majority of Rail workers in this country. The Democrats in the House chose to send TWO bills to the Senate (instead of tying the sick leave to the TA), and it was the Democrats again in the Senate who REFUSED to abolish the filibuster (which takes a simple majority) and instead agreed to a 60 vote threshold to pass the sick leave bill. And even after the sick leave bill failed to get the 60 votes, the great majority Democrats still voted to impose the TA. And in so doing, Congress also effectively outlawed strike activity in the Rail sector for this contract cycle. Thus the betrayal of Labor falls on the Democrats.
This is a huge win for the billionaire railroad owners, CEOs, investors, and the capitalist ruling class of the USA. And given that the two major political parties on the national stage are both firmly supported by the elite (and side with the elite at every crucial juncture), this was also a predictable outcome from the start (as was the failure of the Democrats to pass the PRO Act last year). As sad and sickening as this may be, it is a truth we must reckon with.
The national Democratic Party is NOT the friend of Labor. They are a capitalist party organized to represent the interests of the bosses. And even while they lack degrees of evil exhibited by the increasingly fascist Republican Party, we must not be so confused as to think them allies. They, like the Republicans, are a force we must struggle against (not within). If our collective aspirations as a Labor Movement is to see an empowerment of working people, these are realities we must come to grips with.
So long as the two major national parties are the Democrats (big capitalists) and the Republicans (capitalists with a fascist trajectory), we would be wise to soberly understand that the true power of workers will never be realized through supporting the better of two bad candidates in an election or spending tens of millions of dollars of PAC money to prop up a party which does not support us.
No, my friends, our true power can only be found in our labor, through our solidarity, in the factories, on the job sites, in our shops, in our communities, and by way of those actions we collectively choose to take outside bounds of the preferred limits of engagement set forth by the rigged system created by our class enemies. President Joe Biden is NOT pro-Union (even if he displays less visceral hatred of us than did Donald Trump). Congress is not pro-Union. And neither party will do the right thing unless and until they fear us.
So, let us channel our anger and put our focus and attention towards the hard task of organizing, let us be unafraid to call out and name our enemies, and let us build our Labor Movement into a force which puts the Fear of God into the hearts of those who would side with billionaires and millionaires over the people. And should the Rail Unions and their members choose to withhold their labor (act of Congress be damned), let us stand side by side with them as Brothers and Sisters, come what may, until victory, unbowed!
David Van Deusen
President of The Vermont AFL-CIO