Crooked Media - What A Day: Rail-Joe-ded

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

- Fox & Friends panelist Ainsley Earhardt, describing a fantasy world in which everyone likes former vice president Mike Pence

Let’s talk trains. All aboard! The train is leaving the station! Okay, you get it.

  • Freight railroad companies and their affiliated labor unions had been deadlocked over pay and working conditions for months. Back in September, president Biden announced a “tentative deal” had been reached, but four of the twelve rail unions have rejected their contracts in recent weeks, which immediately raised the threat level for a strike, as the four unions in question represent more than half of the unionized rail workers. One of the central issues is sick time. The railroads (many of which reported record profits last year) would not agree to seven days of paid sick time requested by workers, who currently have no paid sick leave and are forced to take any time at their own expense. There’s also widespread dissatisfaction over a grueling scheduling model which exacts a significant physical and psychological toll on workers 

  • Yesterday, President Biden urged Congress to act and force a contract to avert a strike of the more than 100,000 rail workers, which he said would have devastating economic consequences for already-precarious supply chains for everything from consumer goods to energy to drinking water. This put Biden, who has vowed (repeatedly!) to be “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen,” in a perilous position, and his decision to force an agreement that a portion of the unions had rejected immediately drew ire from members of the rank-and-file.  

  • The House of Representatives passed legislation today by a vote of 290-137 that would force a tentative rail labor agreement and thwart a nationwide strike. The tentative deal approves new contracts providing rail workers with 24 percent pay increases over five years from 2020 through 2024, immediate payouts averaging $11,000 upon contract ratification, and one extra paid day off. The House also passed a separate bill that would give rail workers seven paid sick days per year, which is not included in the current deal, and its exclusion is the major source of opposition among rail workers. Only three House Republicans voted for guaranteed sick leave. (“Party of the working man!”) The agreement legislation will face a tougher climb in the Senate, but Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has expressed confidence in its swift passage.

What this debacle means for the Biden administration’s relationship with unions remains unclear.

  • President Biden was undoubtedly between a rock and a hard place during this deliberation, but forcing through an agreement to circumvent unions’ right to strike at a critical time is disappointing for many, and underscored a belief from some disaffected union workers that when push comes to shove, Democrats, like Republicans, side with big business. It was also personally ill-timed for the president, as it coincided with his trip to a new technology plant in Michigan where he again spoke of the indispensability of unions and the primacy of the American worker, saying, “The middle class built America, and unions built the middle class.” Okay, man. Your move?

  • The (perhaps sad) reality is, Joe Biden is, in fact, the most pro-union president most Americans have ever seen in our lifetimes. He has personally supported unionization efforts from workers at major corporations like Amazon and Starbucks, and his National Labor Relations Board has transposed many of his words and promises into actions. But the right to strike is at the heart of a union’s power, and denying the rail unions their right to do so is a major setback for the labor movement overall. It’s difficult to believe that the president couldn’t have leveraged his influence (and his reputation for not interfering with unions, for that matter!) to exert more pressure on the rail companies (who are swimming in money) to hand over a paltry handful of sick days for employees. We can hold two truths simultaneously: Biden has been a good friend to organized labor, and he also made a decision that could have disastrous consequences for the future of collective bargaining. 

President Biden, if you’re reading this (obviously you are) we’re not angry, we’re just disappointed. One of the central struggles the Democratic Party has faced in recent decades is that the American worker feels abandoned by them, and they have consequently abandoned the party. If there is hope of getting them to return, our leaders have to say what they mean, and mean what they say.

If you’ve ever messaged a friend about a manager who won’t stop texting after hours or a co-worker who keeps posting weirdly suggestive Austin Powers GIFs in Slack - you’re not alone. 

On Crooked Media’s newest podcast, Work Appropriate, author and host Anne Helen Petersen sets out to find solutions to these oddly specific yet completely universal listener-submitted questions. Whether you work in an office chair or a sixth grade classroom - the problems may be limitless but so are the solutions! 

Listen to Work Appropriate now wherever you get your podcasts. New Episodes drop every Wednesday. Check it out!

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R-IN) asked the state’s medical board today to discipline an Indiana doctor who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio. He accused Dr. Caitlin Bernard of “violating a patient’s privacy rights” and the obligation to immediately report child abuse to state authorities. This is spurious garbage because public records show that Dr. Bernard complied with all reporting requirements and had discussed the girl’s case “within the bounds of applicable privacy laws” without revealing any identifying information about her. Dr. Bernard and her medical partner sued AG Rokita earlier this month, demanding he end investigations seeking medical records about patients and their abortions, and accused such inquiries as a “sham” violating requirements that investigations be based on merit, narrowly focused, and confidential. The lawsuit also said that the subpoenas Dr. Bernard has received from the AG were based on complaints from people who had heard Rokita’s false claims in his comments to the media that she had failed to submit a report. Dr. Bernard’s ordeal is a harbinger of what may be to come as Republican officials devise new ways to punish abortion providers, even where abortion is legal.

In a unanimous vote, House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries will succeed Nancy Pelosi as party leader in the lower chamber. He will be the first Black lawmaker to lead one of the two major parties in either chamber of Congress. 


Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated today that the recent shitshow in the cryptocurrency market has not affected the banking sector, but remains skeptical about the industry and believes it needs “adequate regulation.”


The CEO of France’s top telecoms operator said today that emergency phone calls may not be possible in parts of the country if there are prolonged power cuts this winter with the plunge in Russian energy supplies resulting from the blockade. 


A leading chemicals industry group urged that plastic makers need to be more transparent about their products as concern grows about the health impacts of plastics and associated “forever chemicals” finding their way into the food chain and human bodies. 


Thousands of ambulance workers represented by three different trade unions in the United Kingdom voted to strike after disputes over pay and working conditions reached an inflection point. 


Food insecurity is ravaging African nations across the continent still reeling from the global pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine. Experts say the countries need immediate cash liquidity and debt relief in some cases. 

Several vehicles rented by President Biden’s Secret Service team suddenly burst into flames in a Nantucket Airport parking lot early on Monday, less than 24 hours after the cars were returned. The cause of the fires remains under investigation.

Ukraine’s Western allies are seeking to protect the country and its neighbors against Moscow as Russia’s forces tried to advance in eastern Ukraine today and trained increased attacks in the country’s southern Kherson region. At today’s NATO foreign ministers meeting, allies pledged to help Moldova, Georgia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina as they begin to feel the crushing pressure from Russia’s heel, which a spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO showing that it is “absolutely not interested in a political and diplomatic solution in Ukraine.” The Pentagon also announced today that a $1.2 billion contract for six National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems was awarded to Raytheon after the first two NASMS were delivered to Ukraine earlier this month. So we can all breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Raytheon once again comes out on top of a devastating international conflict!

Book Bans Must Be Stopped


This is important. Freedom of expression protects our right to read, learn and share ideas free from viewpoint-based censorship—but recent legislative efforts across the country threaten that right. 


Book bans in schools and public libraries—places that are central to our abilities to explore ideas, encounter new perspectives, and learn to think for ourselves—are unconstitutional—and we need your support to fight back. Sign up today if you’re with us.


The vast majority of book bans that are taking hold across the country—whether through legislative proposals or direct school district or board actions—specifically aim to remove books that are by and about communities of color, LGBTQ people, and other marginalized groups. 


These book ban efforts work to effectively erase the history and lived experiences of women, people of color and LGBTQ people and censor discussions around race, gender and sexuality that impact young people’s daily lives. It’s wrong and it’s unconstitutional.


We all have a right to read and learn free from viewpoint-based or partisan censorship. Sign up today to help us fight for our right to read and learn.


Thank you for taking action,

The ACLU Team

Six years of disgraced former president Trump’s tax returns are now in the hands of the House Ways and Means Committee after a protracted court battle that ended when the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s last appeal. 


The Biden administration announced today that it will give Native American tribes more say in managing federal and tribal lands as part of a larger plan that includes boosting spending for tribes whose land has been harmed by climate change. 

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said today that the agency might scale back the pace of its interest rate hikes “as soon as December.”

. . . . . .

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