Lunchbucket Joe enrages his unions
Joe Biden, despite his vast wealth accumulated while in office, has always played the regular guy for the proles during those rare occasions when he actually campaigns.
He's Lunchbucket Joe to the working man, Scranton Joe who always looks out for the little guy. By his own claim, he's "the most pro-union president" in history. He's also, in Democrat circles, Mr. Electable, because of all his working-class burnish. Democrats lost blue collar workers with the emergence of the Reagan Democrat in the early 1980s and Joe was there to bring them back. Unions, of course, loved him, and never hesitated to give him money.
Well, now Big Labor's unions have learned the hard way just who this clown actually is.
According to The Guardian:
“Joe Biden blew it,” said Hugh Sawyer, treasurer of Railroad Workers United, a group representing workers from a variety of rail unions and carriers. “He had the opportunity to prove his labor-friendly pedigree to millions of workers by simply asking Congress for legislation to end the threat of a national strike on terms more favorable to workers. Sadly, he could not bring himself to advocate for a lousy handful of sick days. The Democrats and Republicans are both pawns of big business and the corporations.”
Biden is planning to ram through in Congress a prohibition for the lone holdout rail union to strike over his self-dictated terms for a new contract. The rest have gone along with it. If the holdout union goes on strike if its demands are not met by the Dec. 9 deadline, the rest of the unions, numbering about 12 or 13 -- engineers, conductors, railwaymen, yardmasters, trainmen, et al. -- will go on strike with them, since none will cross a picket line.
The point of contention is paid sick leave, which the unions are demanding a federal mandate for, and which a previous labor arbitrator had already ruled should continue to be decided at the local level. Rail union employees make an average of $135,000 a year including benefits, and most actually do get sick benefits with that, not on a one-size-fits-all federal mandate, but by local decision-making.
National Review has a pretty good long piece by its editors explaining those dynamics out here.
Well, now the unions and their leaders, from the one industry Joe Biden claims the most affinity to, railways and trains -- are furious at old Scranton Joe.
It's cry-me-a-river stuff, given that these unions have been donating to Democrats for years.
According to Freightwaves, an industry trade publication:
Rail union PACs gave mostly to Democrats
In comparison to the trade and corporate PACs for rail, campaign contributions from the rail unions leaned Democrat.
The PAC for the SMART-Transportation Division has given $916,850, with 85% going to Democrats and 15% going to Republicans.
But of the eight contributions that totaled $10,000, the highest amount given by the PAC, four went to Republicans: Congressmen Donald John Bacon of Nebraska, Chris Smith of New Jersey, Steve Stivers of Ohio and Don Young of Alaska. Bacon, Smith and Stivers have co-sponsored legislation by Young that requires freight trains to have at least two crew members on board.
The PAC for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen gave $423,100, of which 97% went to Democrats and 3% went to Republicans. And the PAC for the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen has contributed $108,250, with 91% going toward Democrats and 9% going toward Republicans.
The Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO gave $152,500, of which 82% went to Democrats and 18% went to Republicans.
National Review's piece is excellent except that it is a bit kind to Joe Biden claiming that old Joe is just putting the country's needs first instead of his own in dictating his contract to the unions.
They went a bit overboard on that one. Joe always thinks of Joe first and his dictated contract to the unions to take it or else is nothing more than his grasp on how hard a rail strike would impact the national economy and more specifically, his 2024 political prospects. Joe's operating on fear for himself, not patriotism, even if the result is the same.
All the same, dictated terms of a contract are kind of rich coming from him, these are the kinds of things that Cuba's dictatorship does to its labor unions, telling the unions they'll eat what the government puts in front of them and they have nothing to say about it.
The great Ronald Reagan rose in stature worldwide in 1981 when he stood up to the PATCO labor union which threatened to shut down air travel nationwide through an illegal strike. Joe just tells the unions what they will get even if they threaten a legal strike.
For unions, that has to be a bitter pill.
What the rest of us see here is Joe Biden being Joe Biden. He tricked the student loan debtors into thinking he had the power to offer them student loan amnesty, only to see his diktat shot down by the courts -- after their midterm votes came in.
Now he's ordering the unions around after winning their support for the midterm election, not exactly being the president of union interests. The railway unions have contributed to Democrats, and gotten out the vote for them, but not with the kind of cash flow the teachers unions have contributed, some don't engage in any politics at all, so for Joe, they're pretty dispensible.
The Guardian has some bitter observations in a headline that says Biden "just knifed labor unions in the back":
It’s sad, really. The beleaguered labor unions of America thought that they had finally found a true friend. In Joe Biden, they had a man who was the most pro-union president in my lifetime – a low bar to clear, but something. Yet this week we found out that when the fight got hard, Biden had the same thing to say to working people that his Democratic predecessors have for decades: “You’ll never get anything you want if I don’t win; but once I win, I can’t do the things you need, because then I wouldn’t be able to win again.”
At the same time that thousands of union members are fanned out across the state of Georgia knocking on doors to get Raphael Warnock elected and solidify Democratic control of the Senate – to save the working class, of course! – Biden decided to sell out workers in the single biggest labor battle of his administration. Rather than allowing the nation’s railroad workers to exercise their right to strike, he used his power to intervene and force them to accept a deal that a majority of those workers found to be unacceptable.
Image: Screen shot from The Guardian video, via YouTube