Welcome back to another week of KK&F, and thanks to those who joined us for last week’s essential conversation with Jonah Furman about the Senate’s decision to block a rail strike — as well as Biden’s role in pushing for that vote, refusing to get the votes to support the workers, and, as we’ve seen so many times, accepting a decision that is by no means set in stone for someone with executive power. Now, we’ve heard from the unions who did not agree on the deal without sick leave: they’re paying close attention to how those in the halls of power are responding to a “humanitarian issue.” And unlike many of those politicians, the leaders of those unions are saying that the unions will use their political power in support of their membership.
Quoted in a CNBC report, Tony Cardwell, president of the Brotherhood of Maintenance Way Employees Division, drew attention to the hypocrisy of what Senators are willing to accept for themselves and what they’re willing to impose on American workers. He had these words for elected officials referring to the paid sick leave demand as a “gimmick”:
They (Congress) have [sick leave], their staffers have it. Many government employees have it. Most corporations provide some form of sick leave for their employees. So I find it completely irritating that they would call it a gimmick.
Great point: If paid sick leave isn’t such a big deal, why does Congress insist on having it? They have unlimited sick days! Yet another insane moment in American politics, emblematic of our Congress’s approach to governing: rights for me, but not for thee. Rest assured that if the Senate insists on having some workplace benefit, we should be demanding that thing, too. But we shouldn’t expect them to support us when we ask.
We’ll continue to reflect on the power dynamics between the federal government and the growing labor movement in episodes to come. We hope you’ll join us for a new and exciting episode of KK&F later this week (Friday for paying subscribers, Saturday for everyone on streaming platforms like Spotify, Pandora, Apple Podcasts). See you soon!
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