How Many More Times? Democrats Side with Bosses Over Rail Workers!

Enough 14

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

Ben Fletcher, Wobbly Organiser

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)

In the early twentieth century, the majority of US unions excluded Black and Asian workers. The IWW welcomed Black and Asian workers warmly with an emphasis on class solidarity with their motto “An injury to one is an injury to all”. Ben Fletcher is of one of the greatest working class heroes in American history.

Local 8 dock workers

Ben was an amazing organiser who was well loved by his comrades. Fletcher helped found and lead Local 8 of the IWW Marines Transport Workers Industrial Union. The Local 8 organised the city’s longshoremen in Philadelphia and was the largest and most powerful IWW branch in the mid-Atlantic. This branch was without doubt the most powerful interracial union of its era: members took a stand against all forms of xenophobia and exclusion.

"Notice! Seamen and longshoremen" poster

Ben played a pivotal role in the decade long campaign in Philadelphia’s waterfront. The majority of his writing and speeches came in this period. He was an important figure within the union as he was a part of a racially diverse leadership. Ben was a wobbly through and through – he was unapologetic and a radical who envisioned a postcapitalist revolutionary society. However his vision did not stop him from engaging in the reform struggle. The wobblies’ antiracist component of their radical vision was central to the day to day union that Fletcher advanced.

“I have been identified with the Labor Movement—twenty years, and I am at a safe distance from forty yet. Nineteen of those years have been spent in the ranks of the IWW and this long ago I have come to know that, the Industrial Unionism as proposed and practiced  by the IWW is all sufficient for the teeming millions who must labor for others in order to stay on this planet, and more, it is the economic vehicle that will enable the Negro Workers to burst every bond of Racial Prejudice, Industrial and political inequalities  and social ostracism.” –Ben Fletcher

This article is part of a series of posts on Black History Month.

 

Workplace Notes

The Anarchist Communist Group (ACG)

London Bus Drivers Act to Protect Themselves (and Get Free Transport for All!)

After the death of at least 26 London bus drivers from coronavirus, their colleagues had had enough. They forced Transport for London (TfL) and the London bus companies to ensure that front doors on buses stayed shut, so that passengers could enter by middle and back doors and avoid contact with drivers. For this to happen, it was necessary to stop paying fares. TfL was reluctant to do this, because of loss of revenue, but they had to back down under pressure.

However, some 2,000 buses in London have entry by front door only and bus workers want these routes to be suspended unless multiple door buses can replace them.

Read More

‘Mickey Mouse’ scabs endanger safety at Heathrow.

Union News

Striking Heathrow firefighters are being undercut by a privatised strike-breaking outfit from Surrey County Council, the FBU has learned.

The union has slammed the “backhanded” method of strike-breaking, warning that replacement crews will not be sufficiently trained for airport or airplane fires. Unite members have currently suspended strike action after bosses made an improved pay offer.

The strike-breaking unit, South East Business Services, was set up by Surrey County Council over four years ago as a separate local authority trading company. Some firefighters initially signed up to the unit, which came with a £3,000 pay package, but pulled out upon learning that the unit was set up to provide strike cover.

Firefighters in Surrey are not generally trained to provide airport or airplane fire cover, which requires specialist skills. The FBU believes the strike breaking plan is badly thought out and could risk public safety at Heathrow Airport.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “This is a backhanded act of strike-breaking from Surrey County Council. Airport fire crews are specialists and, quite frankly, this Micky Mouse outfit will not be trained to deal with airplane fires to anywhere near the standard of airport firefighters. They’re playing fast and loose with public safety at an airport, one of the most high-risk locations imaginable.

“Striking Heathrow workers have the full support of the FBU. It is grossly unfair that they be treated so poorly, while executives and shareholders line their own pockets. No one, and certainly no firefighters, should be helping bosses undermine this strike under any circumstance.”

Unite suspended the strikes planned for earlier this week to allow members to vote on a new pay offer, but strike dates are still on the table for later this month.

  • Like this story? Please support our work here.

Weymouth and Portland – Action on Wages (WeyPAW)

WeyPAW is a community action group who want to give the people of Weymouth and Portland a pay rise. We take action on the streets, in the media and online to help people understand the various problems they have in getting paid properly, as well as the various legally required payments they are entitled to as employees of businesses in and around Weymouth and Portland. These include Statutory Sick Pay and Holiday Pay, but at the very simple, to ascertain whether they are receiving the UK legally mandated Minimum Wage.

Policy Proposals – Discussion

We need:

  • an integrated strategy to tackle poverty wages and failing services in W&P, using public resources in key areas;
  • a commitment by local councils to pay the real Living Wage, as set by the Living Wage Foundation;
  • a commitment by local councils to equal pay for women, full in-work benefits, and rights at work – and an undertaking to allocate contracts on this basis;
  • a commitment by local councils to end to zero-hours contracts;
  • a commitment by local councils to publish and pursue active strategies to tackle food, fuel and funeral poverty;
  • a commitment by local councils to ban payday loan companies from council advertising spaces;
  • an audit of jobs in W&P, with the participation of local councils, to identify delinquent (“rogue”) employers who evade full payment of wages and in-work benefits, and/or who impose unnecessary charges on employees;
  • trade union organisation to protect rights at work, especially in low-paid sectors including catering, retail and leisure (holiday camps, hotels, tourism);
  • a new agenda for housing that focuses on unoccupied units, a programme of refurbishment and co-operative ownership and/or rental;
  • an urgent review of health provision with direct involvement of the public;
  • an active, high-profile public campaign for improved public transport by road and rail;
  • a collaborative strategy for public “anchor” institutions that provide full-time jobs, rights at work and a continuing contribution to local communities;
  • a working group to advance plans for a University of Dorset based on campuses at Weymouth and Dorchester.
  • Revised policy proposals will be put to MPs, councillors, and all candidates for office in the Unitary Authority and in the next general election. WeyPAW will ask all candidates for their views and intentions.

See WeyPAW policies at www.weypaw.org and on Facebook. Contact WeyPAW at weypaw@gmail.com