There’s a subset of left-wing people on Twitter, who seem to have fallen for the seductive trap of cynicism. Unless you’re an accelerationist, if you’re on the left and you want to see the world get better, an increase in union strength is a good thing, and actions by people in power that aid that empowerment are also good. I don’t think that Joe Biden is a reliable ally of unions, but it is, without question, a good thing that he showed up at the picket line. Even if you think it’s a cynical ploy, it should be celebrated, because the more Biden and the Democrats see their success as tied to unions, the more likely they are to support them, and maybe even get over the scare that Reagan gave them.
When I wrote about the Cemex decision this time last month, I closed by saying that it’s important to take advantage of the current pro-union climate while it exists. There is zero doubt in my mind that the federal government will turn hostile to unions once again, and the stronger they get now, the better they will be able to fight back against efforts to break them. If we want to the favorable conditions to last as long as possible – which I do – it would be good for Democrats to win in 2024.
It’s nice to be able to say that without much of a caveat. On some issues, it’s more about opposing the GOP agenda of destruction, but at the moment, the Democrats are actually enacting policy that benefits worker power. Standing still is better than going in the wrong direction, but right now, we’re actually making progress. Most of that is due to workers dedicating their limited free time, energy, and money to building a labor movement, but some of it is absolutely due to changes made by the Biden administration, and it’s pretty clear that if Trump gets back into power, he’ll be just as anti-worker as he has always been:
Trump’s appointees were far more pro-business than pro-worker. He named a string of corporate water carriers to the National Labor Relations Board who often seemed to see their role as undermining unions and making it harder for workers to unionize. Trump’s NLRB appointees said, for instance, that gig economy workers like Uber and Lyft drivers should be considered independent contractors, not employees, thus preventing them from unionizing under federal law.
Trump’s appointees to the supreme court have shown scant sympathy toward workers and outright hostility toward unions. Remember that Neil Gorsuch once ruled that a truck driver deserved to be fired for disobeying his boss’s order and leaving his broken-down vehicle in sub-zero weather – a move that probably saved the driver’s life. It was Gorsuch who delivered the deciding vote in the 5-4 Janus v AFSCME case – the most important anti-union decision in decades. In that ruling, the court’s rightwing majority said that teachers, firefighters and other government employees couldn’t be required to pay any dues or fees to the unions that bargained for them and won raises for them.
All this makes clear that Trump’s claim that he “always” has workers’ back is laughable. Labor leaders should issue a warning: workers of the world, unite against Trump’s con.
What else would you expect from a capitalist born into a real estate empire? More than that, the conservative agenda that’s currently making waves, Project 2025, would be an unmitigated disaster for working people, and probably the world:
In truth, the program laid out by Dans and his fellow Trumpers, called Project 2025, is far more ambitious than anything Ronald Reagan dreamed up. Dans, from his seat inside The Heritage Foundation, and scores of conservative groups aligned with his program are seeking to roll back nothing less than 100 years of what they see as liberal encroachment on Washington. They want to overturn what began as Woodrow Wilson’s creation of a federal administrative elite and later grew into a vast, unaccountable and mostly liberal bureaucracy (as conservatives view it) under Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, numbering about two and a quarter million federal workers today. They aim to defund the Department of Justice, dismantle the FBI, break up the Department of Homeland Security and eliminate the Departments of Education and Commerce, to name just a few of their larger targets. They want to give the president complete power over quasi-independent agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission, which makes and enforces rules for television and internet companies that have been the bane of Trump’s political existence in the last few years.
And they want to ensure that what remains of this slashed-down bureaucracy is reliably MAGA conservative — not just for the next president but for a long time to come — and that the White House maintains total control of it. In an effort to implement this agenda — which relies on another Reagan-era idea, the controversial “unitary theory” of the Constitution under which Article II gives the president complete power over the federal bureaucracy — Dans has formed a committee to recruit what he calls “conservative warriors” through bar associations and state attorneys general offices and install them in general counsel offices throughout the federal bureaucracy.
They very much intend to end any semblance of democracy in the United States, and I can’t fault people for wanting to vote against that. Fortunately, Biden is also, currently, giving at least some real reason to vote for him. This is not an endorsement, and I don’t think the UAW should endorse him until well after they’ve won their current strike action. Biden’s still bad on a number of issues, from fossil fuel extraction, to water privatization, to debt, but I think it’s important to recognize that Biden has actually been attempting to live up to his boast of being the most pro-union president ever, and that’s turning out to be a good thing for everyone.
His appearance at the UAW picket line was an easy thing to do, but it’s something none of his predecessors have done, and it loaned the “bully pulpit” of the presidency to Shawn Fain and the workers. More than that, his NLRB is actually wielding power on behalf of workers, and his FTC is suing Amazon for building a monopoly. The Democrats will not give us revolutionary change, but it seems indisputable that they are currently making it far easier to do the work of getting it for ourselves.
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