Tuesday, December 27, 2022

2022: The Year Nothing Fundamentally Changed—Again

  


2022: 

The Year Nothing Fundamentally ChangedAgain

At the end of each calendar year, we at TRC usually go over what’s happened in the world during the previous twelve months and make some predictions for the coming year. (Last year’s New Year's Eve piece: https://continuousrev.blogspot.com/2021/12/2021-year-nothing-fundamentally-changed.html) This year illness around the holidays took its toll and there’s not enough time to review all 52 weekly posts for 2022, but if there is any one major thing that we can take away from this past year, it’s this: 

Nothing has fundamentally changed—again.

Here are some of the more blatant examples of things that are fundamentally the same—if not worse—than they were at the end of 2021. 

Build Back Better? Only if you work for the Pentagon or a military contractor such as Raytheon or Lockheed Martin:

The military budget deal just reached by Congress will put Pentagon spending at $858 billion — more than $118 billion higher than when President Biden came into office, and more than $180 billion higher than the last budget approved under President Obama. That increase would have been more than enough to cover the costs of the entire Build Back Better agenda. --Democrats Are Making A Devil's Bargain on Pentagon Funding.

In immigration news: Kids are still in cages.


Title 42, an archaic immigration rule resurrected in the Trump administration to flat-out deny asylum to asylum seekers, is still in effect. The Border Wall, started during the Trump administration, is still being constructed. Haitian asylum seekers were beaten with whips by Border Patrol officers on horseback, and they are still being deported at much higher percentages than other immigrants, particularly white and European undocumented immigrants. (Read Why All The Hate For Haiti?)

The student loan debt crisis hasn’t gone away. There may be a hiatus on repayments, but eventually it will go away and the trillion dollars of debt still owed will have to be repaid. Loans given to large businesses and corporations during the pandemic have been forgiven, however. 

COVID-19 is still rampant and mutating. People are still getting sick, being hospitalized, and dying from COVID and related illnesses, some now known as Long COVID. Most free vaccinations and testing clinics have been shut down. 

The major thing that has changed in regards to COVID-19 is that it’s no longer being reported to health departments regularly, and the mainstream media continues to downplay its lethality. This has only motivated some to stop wearing masks in public or taking it seriously, sharing the virus freely with strangers and loved ones alike.

Medicare For All—promised to be enacted by both Biden and "The Squad" on the campaign trail—has yet to come about. Medical debt is the number one reason Americans file for bankruptcy for yet another year. And we're still the only so-called "First World Industrialized Country" that doesn't guarantee health care to all its citizens. It's nothing to be proud of. It's all "Get back to work and get out and buy, buy, buy! Who cares if people are getting sick and dying? Our corporations have to turn a decent profit!"

Endless war continues. This time it’s a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, rather than a “hotter” war in Afghanistan. (Well, it could become hotter if the nukes start flying.) Meanwhile, Afghan refugees are still coming to the US looking for sanctuary. Promises made to the mostly Muslim Afghans seeking asylum (persons who helped the US forces along with their immediate family members) haven’t been kept as they should, but surprise, surprise! White, supposedly-Christian Ukrainians with no documents have had little trouble coming into the US and staying put. 

(Of course, this openness doesn't apply to members of the Russian Orthodox Church, a religion outlawed in Ukraine along with all opposition political parties. That's fighting for "democracy and freedom" American-style!)

Homelessness is on the rise. Mayors of cities such as Los Angeles and New York city have made it part of their winning campaigns promoting how they would destroy tent cities and stick homeless people into mental institutions against their will. Out of sight, out of mind, and more chances of gentrifying rundown areas to the delight of the developers and investment landlords.

In totally unrelated news (ha ha!), rents have more than doubled in many cities. Food and gasoline costs are spiraling ever upward. Empty shelves in grocery stores and discount places are because of “supply chain issues” or so we’re told. No mention is made in the mainstream media how most of our trade is with China, and that threatening war with China over Taiwan isn’t going to make goods any more affordable for the working classes. 

Railroad workers still don’t have the right to strike. They didn’t get the fifteen sick days they asked for either. So-called progressives such as AOC and most members of "The Squad" voted against them. (Read If The Workers Take a Notion...)

Over 48,000 University of California student workers went on strike this fall and are going back after the winter break, but they’re not satisfied with their tentative agreement. More and more America workers organized and joined unions in 2022, so it’s a good sign that most workers understand there is power in numbers and that CEOs are not gods and they don’t have to put up with their employers’ abusive behaviors. (Read Lab Rats of the World Unite!)

“Narrative control,” shadow-banning/censorship, and propaganda reached all-time levels in 2022. Recently the audacity of these propaganda tactics instigated by the FBI, CIA, and both major political parties were revealed in “The Twitter Files” released by independent journalist Matt Taibbi and others.  (Read Disinformation Wars, The Ministry of Truth v. Roe v. Wade and Atrocity Propaganda and Narrative Control for other examples of narrative control. Also, check out the articles from earlier in the year on our Ukraine War Series page to see the pattern of propaganda coming from the US government.)

Julian Assange still resides in Belmarsh Prison (UK). The US is still trying to extradite the Australian publisher of Wikileaks and charge him with treason. His physical and mental health continues to deteriorate. 

Policing? I'd like to tell you that there's been zero incidents of persons of color or poor folks in general being killed by cops in the US in 2022, but sorry. Deaths at the hands of cops continue. Police budgets are growing ever larger along with the military budget. Obviously, Biden or The Squad didn't take the "Defund the Police" movement seriously along with those who support Medicare For All. There's no money to be made by protecting the lives, health or safety of ordinary Americans.

This article title speaks for itself: "An Absolute F**cking Disgrace": Record 6,036 US Kids Killed, Injured by Gunfire in 2022 https://scheerpost.com/2022/12/28/an-absolute-fcking-disgrace-record-6036-us-kids-killed-injured-by-gunfire-in-2022

I’m sure you can think of other examples. 

So, what predictions do we have for 2023? An ever-growing number of unions forming and union members seems likely, and that’s a good thing. Possibly student loan repayments will be delayed again, but if not, many groups are already organizing for a mass boycott of student loan repayments. 

The more dire ordinary Americans’ situations become, as food and transportation costs spiral upward, the more likely they are to agitate for their rights to be paid decent wages, to have a roof over their heads, to have free access to health care and the knowledge of what’s really happening in the world without “Ministry of Truth” styled manipulation and censorship.  

 Is it a rosy outlook or a gloomy one? It’s up for us to decide. 

Sharing information from independent news sources (such as TRC) is an optimistic activity. Many have been brainwashed into believing whatever comes out of the mouth of the mainstream media pundits, so be gentle but persistent with them. Keeping up everyone's morale by sharing good news of peace breaking out and unions forming can go a long way. Financially and morally supporting other workers in their fight for safer and more just workplaces is another good step.

Remember: We’re all in this together. Happy New Year!


Related Articles:

"Disastrous": SCOTUS Upholds Title 42 Migrant Policy During Court Fight https://scheerpost.com/2022/12/28/disastrous-scotus-upholds-title-42-migrant-policy-during-court-fight/

Student Loan Debt is a Scam (video): https://youtu.be/pgPW926532E

Chris Hedges: The Democrats Are Now The War Party https://chrishedges.substack.com/p/the-democrats-are-now-the-war-party

The Claim That The Ukraine War Advances US Interests Discredits The Claim That It's Unprovoked https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/the-claim-that-the-ukraine-war-advances 

Democrats Are Making a Devil's Bargain on Pentagon Funding. It's Not Paying Off  https://scheerpost.com/2022/12/25/democrats-are-making-a-devils-bargain-on-pentagon-funding-its-not-paying-off/

Why All the Hate For Haiti?  https://bernie2016.blogspot.com/2022/10/why-all-hate-for-haiti.html 

Biden Admin Plans to Expand Title 42 to Expel Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Haitians  https://truthout.org/articles/biden-admin-plans-to-expand-title-42-to-expel-cubans-nicaraguans-and-haitians

To Die On The Job Is To Die For America https://bernie2016.blogspot.com/2022/01/to-die-on-job-is-to-die-for-america.html

Zelensky's Diaspora Delegation Led by Economic Hit-Woman Who Led Plunder of Ukraine https://thegrayzone.com/2022/12/23/zelenskys-diaspora-hit-woman-ukraine/

Whee! Let's Start World War 3! https://bernie2016.blogspot.com/2022/08/whee-lets-start-world-war-3.html

Atrocity Propaganda and Narrative Control https://bernie2016.blogspot.com/2022/06/atrocity-propaganda-and-narrative.html

Disinformation Wars https://bernie2016.blogspot.com/2022/11/disinformation-wars.html 

If the Workers Take a Notion... (RWU Strike) https://bernie2016.blogspot.com/2022/12/if-workers-take-notion-rwu-strike.html

Lab Rats of the World Unite! https://bernie2016.blogspot.com/2022/11/lab-rats-of-world-unite.html

The Ministry of Truth v. Roe v. Wade https://bernie2016.blogspot.com/2022/05/the-ministry-of-truth-v-roe-v-wade.html

Ukraine War Series page  https://continuousrev.blogspot.com/p/ukraine-war-series.html 

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Twitter Files? https://scheerpost.com/2022/12/21/whos-afraid-of-the-big-bad-twitter-files/

Gov. Pressured Twitter to Find "Russian Interference", Ban Anti-US Accounts (video) https://youtu.be/sfsuYi72eVw

Chomsky, Hedges, Snowden, Stein and Greenwald on the Assange Case (video)  https://youtu.be/DM0WtQoKXd0 

Amid Inflation and Short Staffing Labor Organizers Demanded More in 2022  https://truthout.org/articles/amid-inflation-and-short-staffing-labor-organizers-demanded-more-in-2022/

Why You Should Be A Socialist in 2023 (video) https://youtu.be/thJ2ocejPko

Comrades, can you spare a dime? Or the cost of a cup of coffee? Help us keep The Revolution Continues going another eight years by donating once or becoming a regular supporter. You can do so via our Substack account or through the link below. 

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Thank you and a Happy New Year to you and yours!

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Heavenly Peace

 Heavenly Peace
by C.A. Matthews

Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright.
‘Round yon virgin mother and child.
Holy infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace!
There’s nothing in any classic Christmas carol about “Shop until you drop!” There’s nothing about spending tons of cash on gifts, food, travel, clothing, or general rabble-rousing. There’s nothing about “He who dies with the most toys wins,” or how great it is to send billions of dollars in weapons to a proxy war and drone bomb civilians, either. Carols tend to emphasize qualities such as “silence” and “peace.”   

How did we ever find ourselves in the mess we find ourselves in today? To understand where we are now, perhaps it’s best to unravel the string of events that led us here.  

Let’s travel back in time and see where our Christmas celebrations took a turn away from silence and peace and landed us in a pit of noise and turmoil. What wrong step did we take? How can we get back on the path of peace and stillness, away from this madness that calls itself “Christmas” in the 21st century?

The idea that Christmas was about going broke every December buying numerous superfluous presents for loved ones, friends, co-workers and bosses is a relatively recent invention. Most place the blame on Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s shoulders. Albert and Victoria (both of German descent) introduced the tradition of Christmas trees to the English-speaking world. 

 

Of course, being tremendously wealthy, the royals lavished tons of toys and other gifts on their huge brood of children. The British middle class was coming into its own in the mid-19th century, so they had an overwhelming urge to copy the customs of their young and spendy queen. Hence, the yearly mad rush to the toy and department stores began.

To outdo your middle class neighbors, you had to have the biggest tree with the biggest pile of gifts under it. Competition was not only encouraged in Victorian times, it was practically mandated. This competition started near the beginning of the industrial revolution, and mass-produced items were becoming the “in-thing” to give. Simple gifts of food and drink were seen as inferior and only for the poor and disadvantaged to share with each other on Christmas Eve.

The burgeoning middle class had to have the best their money could buy from the best stores and manufacturers. To aid these not-quite-as-rich-as the-queen folks and guide them toward where  they could purchase the latest mass-produced gift items, a new art form was developed. “Advertising” told the middle class exactly what was the in-thing that year and, more importantly, where it could be purchased and for how much. 

“Be the first family on your street to own this wonderful consumer item!” advertisers shouted, bursting the peace and silence of the beautiful snowy skies.

This is where the Western celebration of Christmas took that big wrong turn.

“Okay,” you say. “Materialism is bad. Unselfish giving of our time and talents is good. We all stop purchasing useless mass-produced goods we never wanted or could use and end this stupid competitiveness, and everything will be hunky-dory, right? We'll start now, and the world will be peaceful before you know it."

But it isn’t, and you know it. We still have hatred, violence, and endless war. What wrong turn did we take there? 

Would you be surprised if I told you it was the same one? 

The same mass production and keeping up with the neighbors and allowing the elites to dictate how we ordinary beings should live our lives has led us into this mess. There can be no “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Humankind” when there’s money to be made creating billions of useless disposable items—from $1 plastic do-dads to $1 billion bomber aircraft.  

By creating an insatiable need to have more and use more via advertising, we perpetuate the modern myth that Christmas is a holiday for commerce. Because what’s the use of having stockpiles of anything—including weapons—if you don’t have the means to deplete them before next year’s big rush to the “toy” store? Ka-boom!

 
Capitalism depends on endless growth in order to make capitalists (the elite) endless profits. Endless resources are needed to produce ever more mass-produced products for consumers to buy (as they're instructed by advertising to demand more and more) year after year. When the natural resources are depleted at home, capitalists must go abroad and take them. 
 
Sure, capitalists could offer others money and a fair trade, but bombing another country to smithereens and destroying their economy is much more fun, isn’t it? Once you’ve destroyed another country's economy via either a "hot" or "cold" war, you can assume all its resources and use its people as cheap/slave laborers. They have to work for you now, or they don't eat. More profits to be made for the "winning" capitalists. Yeah!

To reiterate, advertising drives the middle class into a frenzy of crass materialism each December, which then leads corporations into destroying our environment in search of the raw resources needed to manufacture these items while also making these corporations vast profits, and these resources are being obtained more and more via endless warfare. Rinse and repeat.

 
A holiday to honor the birth of a man of peace has been co-opted by capitalism and endless wars for resources. Totally and completely co-opted.  

Now that we know how we’ve gotten ourselves into this mess, how can we get out of it? Could it be all we have to do is ignore the propaganda that capitalism is the best economic system ever? (Propaganda is simply another name for the advertising put out by our governments to prop up private corporations destroying our earth in their race to obtain natural resources.) Could it be that all it takes is to stop billionaire CEOs and the endless warfare and sue for peace throughout the world? Could it be that simple?

“Sleep in heavenly peace!” By following words of peace and not those of capitalist warmongers, we will find ourselves surrounded by the beautiful silence of Christmas, where only the celebration of the gift of love is needed.


Related pieces:

The Madness of Nuclear War is Alive and Well in America https://scheerpost.com/2022/12/16/the-madness-of-nuclear-warfare-is-alive-and-well-in-america/ 

Raytheon and Boeing Can't Be Voted Out (video) https://revolutionaryblackout.substack.com/p/raytheon-and-boeing-cant-be-voted

 * * *

 

Comrades, can you spare a dime? Or the cost of a cup of coffee? Help us keep The Revolution Continues going another eight years by donating once or becoming a regular supporter. You can do so via our Substack account or through the link below. 

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If you prefer Paypal, you can donate to us at  

https://paypal.me/camatthews  

Thank you and a Happy New Year to you and yours! 

  * * *


Seen on Twitter:

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

The Real Person of the Year

  

Photo by Ahsanization ใƒƒon Unsplash
                                    

The Real Person of the Year

observations by C.A. Matthews

They great each morning knowing that their day will probably not go the way they’d like it to, but still they soldier on.

They have a family to feed, a mortgage to maintain, rent to pay, school loan debts they owe, car payments to make.

Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash 
                                     

They get in their car, catch a lift with the carpool, run to the bus stop, hail a taxi, climb up the steps to the train platform, go down to the subway and head into the office, the factory, the store, the shop, the restaurant, the warehouse, the shipyard, the rail yard, the university, the school, the daycare, the airport, the hospital, the clinic, the nursing home, the group home, the theater, the studio, the courts, the laboratory, the water treatment plant, the power plant, the growing fields, the greenhouse, the stockyard, the slaughterhouse, the construction site…

Once there, they do what needs to be done. They put up with flack from the boss, the management, and/or their fellow co-workers. They dream of a better life for themselves and their loved ones. They dread catching sick or becoming injured on the job because they know this is America and just one illness or accident can mean losing their means of making a living. It usually means they’ll lose their employer-sponsored private health insurance if they do. There goes the means to pay for necessary medicines, surgeries, therapies and treatments. They’ve witnessed friends and family members fall upon hard times under just these kinds of circumstances, so they know they’re not overreacting. They could lose it all with just one small slip.

The threat of job loss and loss of life on the job is ever-present to the American worker. There are no sissies when it comes those who have little to no say over their fate at the workplace. Organize a union and strike for better pay and working conditions? If workers survive the unionizing process without being laid-off by their bosses first, they're lucky. Most won't. That's an essential feature of the capitalist systemnot a bug. Those who own the means of production can choose to shut it down at a moment's notice.

The company CEOs may decide to close up shop and that’s that. No more work. Workers are out on their rears the next day. The bills don’t stop and the debts don’t magically go away. Their need for lifesaving medicines to treat a chronic condition for themselves and/or a loved one doesn’t disappear overnight. A “prior condition” is what it’s called in the United States. It's an unknown term for most other humans on the planet who receive free health care unconnected to their workplace.

Photo by Liam Martens on Unsplash
                                       

Without employment, workers are often forced to beg, steal, or borrow to make ends meet and keep food in their children’s stomachs. They're sometimes forced to sleep in their cars or on the streets. Couch-surfing can become their way of life before they even know it.

They had no say so over this cruel twist of fate. Rich people who own the means of production decided that the workers’ high level of productivity has made them a whole lot more money, but it also has cut into their profits. The market is flooded with their products and nobody wants to buy them. Something had to give, and it isn't going to be the billionaires. Workers can’t expect billionaires to give up a red cent of their profits or their extravagant lifestyle, can they?

If they’re lucky, workers will find another job soon enough and back they will go to the same routine. They’ll get in their car, catch a lift with the carpool, run to the bus stop, hail a taxi, climb up the steps to the train platform, go down to the subway and head into the office, the factory, the store, the shop, the restaurant… Sure, this time they’re not making as much money as before, but it is what it is. No health insurance provided by this new employer, but it is what it is. No hopes of promotion, no guaranteed hours, no paid sick days, but it is what it is.

TIME magazine's Person of the Year wearing his favorite color--green.

It is what it is. This is America. This is the trap 99% of Americans will put up with from the time they take their first job until the day they’re forced out of their last one. The lucky 1% who inherit large sums of wealth and capital haven’t a clue.

Braver than any actor who takes billions of dollars in armaments to fight a proxy war for a cowardly government run by intelligence agencies on behalf of the self-same billionaire oligarchs who control the lives and health of workers worldwidethat’s the American worker. Workers used as pawns, brainwashed to take the blame for the recklessness of the corporations/institutions they’re forced to work for, suffering early death and illness because of the lasting damage these wealthy reprobates have inflicted upon the planet due to their addiction to fossil fuels burning and its profits. The workers, dying because of the oligarchs’ total lack of respect of the environment, the water, the soil and the very air we all breathe.

The American Worker. This is who really should be TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year.”

 

TIME's Man of the Year 1938. Yeah, they went there.


Related Articles:

Zelensky Named Time Magazine's "Person of the Year" https://youtu.be/9ReQ_97k7sI (video) 

Railroad Workers Speak Out After Congress and Biden Block Rail Strike https://scheerpost.com/2022/12/08/railroad-workers-speak-out-after-congress-and-biden-block-rail-strike/

Fast Track to the Gilded Age (short animation) https://scheerpost.com/2022/12/08/mark-fiore-fast-track-to-the-gilded-age-video/  

No Union? You Still Have a Right to Strike https://popularresistance.org/no-union-you-still-have-a-right-to-strike/

Sick Days Are a Human Right https://popularresistance.org/new-york-city-sick-days-are-a-human-right/

Solidarity Rally for Railroad Workers  https://popularresistance.org/solidarity-rally-for-railroad-workers/

 

Seen on Twitter:

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

If The Workers Take A Notion... (RWU Strike)



If The Workers Take A Notion...

by C.A. Matthews

If the workers take a notion,
They can stop all speeding trains,
Every ship upon the ocean
They can tie with mighty chains.
Every wheel in the creation,
Every mine and every mill,
Fleets and armies of the nation,
Will at their command stand still. 
Joe Hill


Imagine, if you will, that you’re as sick as a dog (could it be COVID-19?) but you’re not allowed to call in sick to your extremely demanding and physical job. If you do call in sick, you will not be paid—and that’s bread out of your children’s mouths—and you will also receive a black mark next to your name. But let’s say that you decide it’s worth staying home for a day to recuperate or go to your doctor for medicine. You get away with just a warning this time, but a month later it’s one of your parents—they’re at death’s door. Your family insists you come home before your parent takes their last breath and stay with them at least a week for the funeral. What do you do?

If you go to your parent’s death bed and stay for the funeral, you’ll receive another black mark and find yourself immediately fired from your job. There’s no discussion about it. Those are the rules. Your empty position might not even be filled, as the company decides that less workers working even more overtime hours can take up the slack. Who really needs adequate rest and medical attention to do a good job anyway?

When your union decides that it’s had enough of these inhumane work conditions and asks for fifteen sick days per year, the well-paid CEOs of yours and all the other related companies flat out say no to the request. Your union talks seriously about striking. However, before you can do so, the federal government steps in and says, “It’s illegal for you to strike, and if you strike you all will be fired.”

This nightmare scenario isn’t something out of an Orwellian novel. This is the life of the American railroad worker in the year 2022. Working under conditions like this, what could possibly go wrong?

The greater threat, railroad unions argue, is workers on the job for days a time without sufficient time off to see a doctor or recover from illness as the nation continues to face COVID-19 and other viruses. In June, a locomotive engineer died of a heart attack on the job after missing a doctor’s appointment to avoid being penalized by BNSF, a major rail carrier company. From Railroad Workers Slam Biden for Siding with Bosses to Avoid Strike 

But, but, but... Just think about all those “poor” CEOs! How can they afford to pay railroad workers what they’re worth, hire a sufficient number of them to work safely, and provide them with paid sick days? Aren’t they suffering in this wretched economy, too?

Think again:

While opposing a plan that would have required them to spend $321 million to give workers seven paid sick days, the main railroad companies raked in more than $7 billion in profits and   paid out over $1.8 billion in dividends, in a year where they and their lobbying groups have spent more than $13 million lobbying Congress — after railroad CEOs pocketed more than $200 million in compensation.

The railroad industry delivered more than $3.3 million in campaign contributions to Congress in the 2021–2022 cycle, according to data collected by OpenSecrets.

The railroad workers — constrained by an outdated labor law, the Railway Labor Act, which severely limits their right to strike — have been outgunned this time by powerful corporate titans   bearing little difference from the railroads’ robber baron founders. From Railroad Bosses Gave Millions to Congress to Defeat Their Workers
That’s the story that made some of the mainstream media outlet headlines this past week. Railroad workers are threatening to strike—illegally—because their reasonable contract demands aren’t being met. President Biden, who campaigned with the promise that he would become “the most pro-union president,” has signed a bill that passed both houses of Congress that forbids the railroaders from striking and forces them to accept a contract they don’t want since it doesn’t even address their paid sick day demands. 

Even faux progressives/DSA members like Rep. Alexandria “Tax The Rich While Attending A Met Gala In An Expensive Evening Gown” Ocasio-Cortez voted for the anti-strike bill. How the DSA (The Democratic Socialists of America) can even claim to be a pro-union, pro-worker, pro-socialist, pro-democracy organization is a mystery to me and many others. Supporting unions, collective bargaining, and the right of workers to vote on whether or not to strike are among their founding principles. What are they if they ignore their own principles?

Formerly somewhat-socialist Senator Bernie Sanders tried to passed another smaller bill that would give the railroad workers seven of the fifteen paid sick days they asked for, but it failed spectacularly as well. It was bound to fail the way the Senate has been voting lately, and the Railroad Workers United (a coalition of railroad worker unions) saw through this ploy. The bit of sugar for workers that Bernie dangled in front of his fellow senators really wasn’t going to make much of a difference anyway, but at least we know his “thoughts and prayers” are with the thoroughly screwed-over railroad workers, don’t we?

The vote is a thoroughly unsatisfying result for rail workers, who had pushed for up to 15 days of paid sick leave, better health benefits overall, and other attendance- and schedule-related   demands. Their work conditions have already been in limbo for three years throughout contract negotiations.
The vote is also a sign of the willingness of both Democratic and Republican lawmakers to trample on workers’ rights, and represents a stunning betrayal from Biden, who had pledged to be the “most pro-union president in American history” on the campaign trail.
Unions and labor advocates have expressed frustration over the resolution this week, which they say is a show of both major political parties’ alliances with capital and the rail industry. Even if the sick leave amendment had passed, the amendment didn’t go as far as some union members had pushed for — and workers say that the inclusion of paid sick leave would still not fully address the abusive conditions they face or undo the fact that many Democrats voted to override the will of the unions. —From Senate Blocks Sick Leave Plan Imposes Rail Contract In Anti-Union Move 


There’s not much more I can say now other than I sincerely hope the railroad workers start a wildcat strike come their deadline of December 9. They have the numbers (approximately 115,000 RWU members), and they have the power. A strike by the railroaders would shut down the economy and send a definite message to Congress, the president, and the world that American workers aren’t slaves or pack animals. They have human rights that cannot be trampled on by Big Business and the federal government without consequences.

As award-winning journalist Chris Hedges puts it:

The rich, throughout history, have subjugated and re-subjugated the populations they control. And the public, throughout history, has awakened to the class war waged by the oligarchs and plutocrats and revolted. Let us hope that defying Congress, freight railroad workers carry out a strike. A strike will at least expose the fangs of the ruling class, the courts, law enforcement and the National Guard, much as they did during labor unrest in the 20th century, and broadcast a very public message about whose interests they serve. Besides, a strike might work. Nothing else will.  Know Thine Enemy

The RWU sums up what’s been happening and what steps all workers should take next very well:

While Railroad Workers United (RWU) finds it despicable – but not surprising – that both political parties opted to side with Big Business over working people yesterday and vote against the interests of railroad workers – not once, but twice, within hours. We suffered a one-two punch at the hands of, first the Democratic Party; the second served up by the Republicans.

First, responding to the wishes of President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the House voted to legislate a contract that the majority of U.S. freight rail workers had previously voted to reject. The Senate would quickly follow suit. In effect, their actions simply overrode our voices and desires. Rail workers – like all workers – should have the right to bargain collectively and to freely engage in strike activity if and when the members see fit and when they democratically elect to do so.
Within hours of the Senate vote sealing our fate on Thursday afternoon, we would suffer a second defeat, this time at the hands of the other party of Big Business, the Republican Party. That bill – which would have mandated that all railroad workers receive seven days of paid sick leave – would receive just a handful of votes from Republicans in the House and, crucially, in the Senate, where it went down to defeat.

“This one-two punch from the two political parties is despicable,” according to RWU General Secretary Jason Doering. “Politicians are happy to voice platitudes and heap praise upon us for our heroism throughout the pandemic, the essential nature of our work, the difficult and dangerous and demanding conditions of our jobs. Yet when the steel hits the rail, they back the powerful and wealthy Class One rail carriers every time.”

Railroad Workers United understands that this fight for justice will continue in the coming months and years. “The rail carriers are too powerful and are a scourge to the national economy,” according to RWU Steering Committee Member Paul Lindsey, “They need to be taken into public ownership and run in the interest of workers, shippers, passengers, and the nation, not a handful of wealthy stockholders.”
RWU believes that railroad workers need to explore options other than the existing two political parties since neither appears to have our backs. RWU also believes that railroad workers need to consider doing away with the archaic and divided craft union system that hampers our unity and solidarity, and initiate the process of building a single and powerful railroad workers union that can win in future rounds of contract bargaining. According to RWU Organizer Ron Kaminkow, “We have been played for well over a century by politicians and union officials alike. The fiasco of recent months will show that perhaps the time has come for railroad workers to push for a unified and powerful labor organization of all crafts, together with a political party that will better serve the interest of not just railroad workers but all working-class people.” --From Democrats Then Republicans Smite Rail Labor

This is the solution to all our problems, for all American workers. Nationalize the railroads and other industries that are vital to our very lives and well-being, such as health care, education, and housing. Dump the duopoly of the corporate-owned-and-operated Republican and Democratic parties that easily vote away the rights of workers but can’t seem to even vote on a bill to provide them with adequate sick days or universal health care.

This is what the world needs now—healthy, well-cared-for Americans who enjoy the human rights our government agreed to in the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We certainly don’t need to be wasting hundreds of billions of tax-payers’ dollars on proxy wars and risking nuclear war when we can’t even give a hardworking railroad worker a sick day off with pay.

***

From Railroad Workers Protest Joe Biden's Interference In Fight For Their Rights  

Railroad Workers United, a coalition of 14 railroad labor unions, also published an open letter to Congress and the President urging them to refrain from efforts to subvert the railroad workers’ rights. They went on to demand that the railroads be brought under public ownership to serve the public interest and that Congress pass laws for paid family and sick leave for all workers, fully fund the National Labor Relations Board and pass the PRO Act.

Dear President Biden, Democratic Leaders Pelosi and Schumer, Republican Leaders McConnell and McCarthy, and all members of the United States Congress: 

We are sending you this letter to urge you to rescind and reject President Biden’s proposal for Congress to force rail carriers and rail workers to accept a tentative contract agreement that has been rejected by four out of the twelve railroad unions. These four unions represent the majority of workers on the nation’s freight railroads, and by pushing through a tentative agreement that a majority of rank-and-file union members have declared completely unsatisfactory, President Biden and Congress would be overriding the democratically expressed will of railroad workers. 

While the tentative agreement provides significant wage increases, workers on the railroads have stated clearly and repeatedly that their fight is not just about money. Railroad workers are fighting for the right to live—and have a life—outside of work.

The freight rail industry is structured as a non-competitive oligopoly that is dominated by seven rail carriers and operates at the behest of Wall Street, prioritizing the maximization of profit for rail executives and shareholders, even if it comes at the expense of endangering the broader public and irreparably damaging the supply chain. In the past few decades, the rail industry has adopted the Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) model, which has benefited investors at the cost of railroad workers and the public at large. As noted in the Presidential Emergency Board Report #250, because of the PSR model, railroad companies have reduced the workforce by about 30 percent in 6 years, have instituted attendance models which pressure workers to work through exhaustion, reduced safety and checking procedures, all in order to reduce costs and increase profits. 

In fact, the railroad industry is the most profitable industry in the country. However, the billions of dollars of profit comes at the cost of railroaders being on call virtually 24/7, unable to access routine health care, missing the deaths of their loved ones and the birth of their children, and dying by the hundreds in work accidents. It has also come at the cost of the broader public, as PSR has created a situation where there are not enough working railroaders to service the demand which the rail industry faces, making it a direct cause for the current supply-chain crisis and a key contributor to inflation. 

The central demand of railroad workers has been increased days of sick leave which has been wholly absent from the tentative agreement. It is for this that workers are willing to go on strike. Railroad workers have been without a contract for over 3 years, dealing with these issues without resolution and without support from the Congress and Presidency. Urgent action has only taken place after the urging of big business not of workers.  

After a coalition of over 400 business groups sent a letter on Monday to Congress to call for immediate action to prevent a railroad strike, President Biden’s administration responded swiftly, urging members of Congress to override the will of the railroad workers, enshrine the tentative agreement into law, and force railroad workers back to work.

Senator Sanders has tweeted that he will “block consideration of the rail legislation until a roll call vote occurs on guaranteeing 7 paid sick days to rail workers in America”. We applaud this effort but we also note that rail workers are fighting for 15 days of sick leave and that the United States is the only country in the developed world that does not guarantee paid sick leave. Under the threat of a railroad strike, which will cripple the US economy if executed, the opportunity has opened up for all working people in the country to stand in solidarity with railroad workers and demand what we deserve, the right to live in dignity

While we are stuck at an impasse in the railroads, almost 50 thousand graduate student workers in the UC system are striking for better pay and conditions, with a key demand being a Cost of Living Adjustment(COLA). They are joined by the thousands of Starbucks and Amazon workers who have unionized their workplace and are currently bargaining for a contract, by the Warrior Met Coal United Mine Workers who have been on strike for 19 months, by the thousands of tenants who have formed tenant unions and are fighting for better housing, by nurses and teachers and various segments of all working people in the country who are all fighting the same struggle, in different forms, for a better world.

As members of Congress debate amendments to the Tentative Agreement in order to avert a railroad strike, we urge Congress and the President to also take hold of this historic opportunity to empower all working people. As such we urge Congress to adopt the following demands:

  1. Public Ownership of the Railroads: To deal with the current supply chain crisis, Congress must take control of rail infrastructure as is done the world over and operate it under the public interest.

  2. Universal Paid Family and Sick Leave: The United States is the only developed country that does not guarantee paid leave. Our members of Congress have the privilege of enjoying paid family and sick leave which must be expanded to include all working people.

  3. Pass the PRO Act and Fund the NLRB: Congress must step up and ensure that the right to organize for working people is protected through the passage of the PRO Act and also ensure that the NLRB is properly funded to accommodate the sharp increase in unionization. 

Sincerely,

Railroad Workers United

You can sign the letter at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScJBMZx6EN5Lc72SUnGbP9GlMFsN0nvczA6RTjpza-dCoSfJw/viewform


Related Articles:

Press Release from Railroad Workers United https://myemail.constantcontact.com/Press-Release--The-Democrat-Republican-One-Two-Punch-to-Rail-Labor.html

Democrats Then Republicans Smite Rail Labor https://popularresistance.org/democrats-then-republicans-smite-rail-labor/

Resolution in Favor of Public Ownership of the Railroad Industry from the RWU  https://static1.squarespace.com/static/505b96a8c4aa40a37a143c49/t/634727bb9a8a3523da77a389/1665607613004/RWU+Resolution+in+Support+of+Public+Ownership+of+the+Rail+Industry+-+FINAL+10-12-22.pdf

 \US Railroad Workers "Under The Thumb" https://popularresistance.org/us-railroad-workers-under-the-thumb/

Railroad Bosses Gave Millions to Congress to Defeat Their Workers.https://www.rsn.org/001/railroad-bosses-gave-millions-to-congress-to-defeat-their-workers.html

Railroad Workers Protest Joe Biden's Interference In Fight For Their Rights https://popularresistance.org/railroad-workers-protest-joe-bidens-interference-in-fight-for-their-rights/

Biden Accused of Selling Out Rail Workers by Urging Congress to Prevent Strike https://scheerpost.com/2022/11/29/biden-accused-of-selling-out-rail-workers-by-urging-congress-to-prevent-strike/

Railroad Workers Slam Biden for Siding with Bosses to Avoid Strike https://truthout.org/articles/railroad-workers-slam-biden-for-siding-with-bosses-to-avoid-strike/

US Rail Workers Are Poised to Begin a National Strike Next Week https://popularresistance.org/u-s-rail-workers-are-poised-to-begin-a-national-strike-next-week/

Every Union Contract Right Now Should Be the Best Ever https://popularresistance.org/every-union-contract-right-now-should-be-the-best-ever/ 

Putting Profits Over People. Senate Rejects Paid Sick Leave For Rail Workers https://scheerpost.com/2022/12/02/putting-profits-over-people-senate-rejects-paid-sick-leave-for-rail-workers/ 

Senate Blocks Sick Leave Plan, Imposes Rail Contract in Plainly Anti-Union Move https://truthout.org/articles/senate-blocks-sick-leave-plan-imposes-rail-contract-in-plainly-anti-union-move/

Biden Urged to Sign Executive Order Guaranteeing Rail Workers Paid Sick Leave  https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/12/01/biden-urged-sign-executive-order-guaranteeing-rail-workers-paid-sick-leave 

Airline Workers Join Railroaders in Fight Against Abusive Work Conditions https://popularresistance.org/us-airline-workers-join-railroaders-in-fight-against-abusive-work-conditions/ 

Chris Hedges: Know Thine Enemy https://chrishedges.substack.com/p/know-thine-enemy

The Squad: A Long History of Failures/Bernie Sanders' Role in Passing Anti-Strike Law  (video) https://youtu.be/BtrnHO2gXr8

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