By: Ryan P, Red Phoenix correspondent, Pennsylvania.
It is undeniable that, in America, railroad workers are severely underappreciated. Their jobs are physically demanding and require them to always be on call. Considering the heavy workload and the vital service they provide, it would follow common sense that the amount of time they are able to have off should be proportionate. However, in a capitalist society like the United States, profits dominate and common sense rarely applies. American railway workers receive few sick days which often must be requested in advance, as if illness and injury can be predicted. With the rise of infectious diseases such as COVID-19, monkeypox, and RSV, paid time off is more important than ever. Railway workers have called upon the US government, demanding seven more annual paid sick days under the threat of striking on December 9th. Unsurprisingly, this reasonable demand was shut down by the Biden administration and the Senate.
Even as the House of Representatives voted on a resolution to give railway workers additional sick leave, the Senate voted against it. With the administration deciding to outright ban the planned strike by railway workers, it would seem that Biden’s given nickname of the “Union President” is more ironic than ever.
Of course, there are claims that at least the railway workers got something out of this – after all, eight of the twelve unions managed to agree on a bill with the House that would entail incremental benefits such as an increase in pay. Yet, the other four unions that rejected this diluted bill represent over half of the country’s railway workers, making it clear that for the vast majority of railway workers this is not nearly enough.
The usual excuses were given, such as the difficulty of the decision or that the strike would devastate the economy. What is especially interesting is that even “progressives” like Cori Bush and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez voted against the interests of the railway workers, with only the likes of Bernie Sanders seemingly concerned with the rights of railway workers in any way.
The fight is not over. It took decades of class struggle by the American proletariat to win the right to strike in the first place, and the right to fight for what we deserve on legal grounds. Oftentimes this struggle has been against the trade unions and other organizations that claim to act on behalf of workers but fail to adequately represent our interests. The American Party of Labor calls upon railroad workers of all backgrounds to refuse to allow the US government to trample their rights. Do not let Biden break his promise of being “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.” Do not let railroad corporations continue to benefit from the labor and sacrifices of the workers. It is clear that a bourgeois government is unable and unwilling to fight for the rights that workers deserve, and therefore we must keep fighting together in solidarity as a united working class.