Workers rights and unions

So…not as quickly as being caught in the blast zone of a nuclear warhead, but a hell of a lot faster than being stuck in the chimney of a restaurant grill?


Oh, that is horrifying.

This is even more horrifying:

“OSHA cited the company for one willful violation and proposed $145,027 in fines, records show.”

What. The. FUCK!!!



That is all the employee death is worth the federal regulators.

Let’s hope the employee’s survivors sue the hell out of the company and the jury finds for them. It was so preventable :disappointed_relieved:


That is disgustingly low against the FEMA value - 7.5 million


The fine was suppose to encourage the company to put up the guardrail. The company decided that the possibility of a worker dying wasn’t worth the cost of the guardrail. At least there is proof that the company willfully ignored the requirements and knew they were doing so. When this goes to trial that will increase the company’s liability substantially.


Link should be free to read…

Dozens of youths illegally employed to clean meat plants, Labor Dept. says
According to investigators, 13- and 14-year-olds allegedly suffered severe chemical burns while working for a food safety company



Tesla Is Facing Complaints of Safety Violations from the Construction Workers Who Built Texas Gigafactory


Trigger warning: I grew up in a union household (my dad was a construction worker, often laid off) and was able to eat regularly and make weekend plans with my family. It’s hard not to rant, so apologies in advance if the tone bothers some.

I have written my two US Senators and House rep–all Dems–because that’s what I can do to help. I don’t think they’ll listen, though, unless other voters speak up en masse. If you’re not a billionaire, you’re probably a worker, too.

“I am calling on Congress to pass legislation immediately to adopt the Tentative Agreement between railroad workers and operators – without any modifications or delay – to avert a potentially crippling national rail shutdown.” This WH post quotes industry talking points and says nothing about worker needs.

Now that the election is over, Dems and the “Most Pro-Labor president in history” are running point for billionaire railroad tycoons to deny basics like paid time off and the possiblility of a normal life to workers. Who needs Republicans?

The fact that he said “no modifications” when there’s no real deadline is pretty telling. If workers mattered, they’d take the time to ensure some changes favorable to worker quality of life were added. One freaking day of Warren Buffett’s wealth gains could pay for 15 days of sick leave, but our politicians look poised to force the workers to suffer instead. Where the rubber meets the road, how much progress have we made for worker’s rights since the 1800s?

I’m afraid no one ever really wanted to work all the livelong day, but this deal expects them to forego having a life for the sake of billionaires getting richer. That’s such a bullshit argument. If going without railroad labor is an existential threat to our society, maybe treating the workers with a shred of decency is appropriate? Would it kill Dems to side with the workers here? No, but they’re not going to. This is what they want workers to accept. Imagine if there were no unions in this industry…

Workers have a voice, but it’s not in the MSM. Here’s what some of them say about the situation.

ETA- Spelling


I did, too. Both of my parents were union public school teachers. I walked picket lines with them when they were on strike and there wasn’t child care available. I would definitely not be where I am today without unions. I am vocally pro-union.

I do think it’s important to remember two things about the railroad workers negotiation: 1. The brokered deal does represent an improvement over the previous contract; and 2. 8 out of 12 unions have approved the deal.

I think the four unions that are holding out have completely valid points. What I saw with previous negotiations and strikes is that, as long as you’re making progress, it is better not to strike. If you’ve hit the point where management won’t deal, that’s when it’s best to strike. Negotiation works best when it is possible to gain ground by a succession of “ratchet” agreements. Strikes often lead to a reset of all variables and can lead to a worse deal than what you started with.

ETA: Just to be clear, I don’t think it’s fair for the holdout unions to essentially force the majority of unions that agreed to the brokered deal to go on strike. Take the deal and continue advocating for further improvement.


Thanks. I like that we see our common ground. More of that would go a long way in our country.

Where we do disagree is your ETA. I think the railroads have shown us who they are. So has the government. I believe them. They are willing to pass a bill to prevent workers from having paid sick time and a normal life. It’s hard to fight city hall, and I’m not convinced (see below) those union leaders whose members agreed to these table scraps were trying very hard to advocate for the right thing. We don’t know what kind of union busting propaganda was used by the railroads to intimidate workers who can’t live without a paycheck. This deal denies workers basic human dignity.

Here are a few things I’d like to add.
The deal still leaves workers on call for all but 30 days of the year and unable to use PTO for emergent events like a death or illness in the family. That’s inhumane. Biden says he wants them to accept this. Would you, in the workers’ shoes? I think with $23 billion in profits, the railroads can afford to allow time off or hire more workers.

I adamantly support organized labor and recognize the decline of the middle class/transfer of wealth to the owner class correlates directly with the decline of unions. However, I know that self-interest corrupts any system or institution and believe that leadership of those eight unions probably did put their members’ basic needs on the back burner for other considerations, political or personal. Even if workers were convinced they should not have a life outside of work while executives and stockholders enjoy lives of luxury and leisure, they voted against their own interests, much like any working class person who voted for Reagan or Trump.

Biden is mirroring Reagan here. Not a good look historically or at present, especially considering that he waited until after the election to turn on the working class. We’re a long way from 1992, when he stood for workers in the setting of a rail strike. Here’s more commentary from affected rail workers. I find it compelling, but I’m not part of the eight unions that approved the forced deal. Perhaps the devil is in the details not clear to me or to them.

People are forced to go to work sick. In a country where it’s common sense to wear a mask to a pharmacy, how can anyone support this?

Agreed in most circumstances. Here, management refuses to compromise and has the President and Dem establishment acting as a cudgel to end negotiations in their favor and take away the right to strike. No more progress allowed by law. That seems to me like the nadir for workers’ rights and it has implications for everyone who needs a paycheck to survive.

The only person I’ve seen speaking out much is Bernie (I), whose words rarely seem to convince his caucus mates to do the right thing where workers are concerned. Schumer today: "“Leader McConnell and I agreed we’d try to get it done ASAP.” By this, he means force workers to accept this and take away their right to strike.

ETA-Addressing the previous ETA


I agree that better conditions are necessary for rail workers, and ASAP. That’s for their safety and well-being as well as the public’s.

I disagree that management is intransigent; the deal that was brokered does improve over the previous contract. Again, as long as there is motion, it’s important to stay at the table.

As for forcing workers to work while sick - I mean, that’s 90% of the US workforce, not just rail workers. I would like to see legislation that completely revamps our sick leave rights across the whole country.

My read is that the administration’s proposal is to force a resolution to the current brokered deal and avoid a strike as it would pertain to this deal, not to legislate away rail workers’ right to strike completely. Correct me if I’m wrong - but I think you’ve applied a bit of hyperbole there. If they are proposing a ban on strikes by rail workers, then fuck them sideways with a cactus. It wouldn’t even be very effective, as it would certainly pit the workers who have agreed to the deal against the government immediately. And there are a LOT of way to strike without striking. They can shut down the system without missing a minute of work.

That said, what I’m reading is a resolution to this contract conflict without preventing future labor actions.


Pay Me Kim Kardashian GIF by GQ


Based on my diction, you’re absolutely right. I should have said what I mean: They are moving to take away the right to strike in this instance. We’ve seen an alarming erosion of worker rights & benefits and influence of labor in my lifetime (Gen X). Channeling Reagan here would set a scary precedent when the party that has cultivated an image of supporting workers spearheads blocking a rail strike when workers are asking only for the ability to not be punished for being sick.

As for forcing workers to work while sick - I mean, that’s 90% of the US workforce, not just rail workers. I would like to see legislation that completely revamps our sick leave rights across the whole country.

I’d love to see that legislation too, right after universal health care (and I work in the industry). Other than gig workers, part-timers, or fast food jobs, most people (esp union workers) have sick time or PTO they can use without scheduling months in advance that allows them to take off and recover. Since wages are low and inflation is high, many choose to work sick. That’s not the same. They also get two days off each weekend. Railroaders do not. Being on call 330+ days a year just isn’t something to settle for in the short or long term, IMO. Not for a single day. That Biden is pushing this speaks volumes about how much he values and respects the working class. I don’t think we should allow our politicians to force inhumane working conditions that promote spread of disease during a pandemic and require workers to be married to work instead of their spouses.

the deal that was brokered does improve over the previous contract. Again, as long as there is motion, it’s important to stay at the table.

I may be missing something, but I don’t hear anything other than “ram the deal through asap.” If D leadership is talking about going back later, I’ll be surprised, but I’ll happily eat crow if it actually occurs. Improvement from totally inhumane to slightly less so isn’t what those workers deserve.

I’ll cross my fingers that you are right about the intention to go back to the bargaining table. However, it appears our lawmakers think workers should make sacrifices to save the economy, not billionaires. That’s fucked.


Come, on man. Reagan destroyed an entire generation of ATCs over that strike. Again, that’s overstatement to even make the comparison.

I don’t think it’s up to the government to keep negotiating (though that would be welcome, if they are pushing for better terms for the workers). It’s the unions that need to continue to push, and in some ways, if the government steps in and forces the issue, they have a good excuse to keep pushing. Again, an all-out strike isn’t the only tool they have in their belt to continue to gain concessions from management.


A monopoly on the means of communication may define a ruling elite more precisely than the celebrated Marxian formula of monopoly in the means of production.

-Robert Anton Wilson

He has a point. Listen to CNN. They are silent on behalf of the workers.

Hint–Workers don’t own any of the six dominant media companies in the US

Now, this

Sick Tully GIF by Big Brother Australia

ETA-While this whole situation stinks, “progressives” have scored six more paid sick days for rail workers, though the bipartisan vote was much tighter. Finally, some good news!



And like you, I despise that they are using the sick days as a political lever instead of doing the right thing for workers.