The Railroad Workers Rank-and-File Committee is hosting a public meeting Wednesday, September 14, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time, “Organize to prepare for a national strike!” All railroaders and their supporters are urged to attend and register for the meeting here. To join or contact the committee, send an email to email@example.com or fill out the form at the bottom of this page.
Congress intends to intervene to prevent a national rail strike and unilaterally impose a concessions contract, Steny Hoyer, the second highest ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, told Bloomberg News on Monday.
“There is a role for Congress if in fact they fail to reach an agreement,” Hoyer told Bloomberg’s television news station. “We can pass legislation if needed.” He added, “A railroad strike at this point in time would be extraordinarily detrimental to our economy and the American people, and we want to avoid that.”
The US Chamber of Commerce also issued a statement demanding intervention by Congress in the event that a deal is not struck before Friday’s deadline, when the legally mandated “cooling-off” period expires at 12:01 a.m. This is the latest public statement by a major industry group demanding Congress intervene to enforce a contract by fiat, ripping up the democratic rights of 100,000 railroaders who are nearly unanimously opposed to a deal and are pushing for strike action.
While not unexpected, Hoyer’s remarks are a significant escalation of the state’s efforts to impose a pro-company contract. They follow Biden’s appointment of a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB), which proposed a settlement including wage increases below inflation, increased health care costs and no changes to the hated attendance policies that leaves train crews on call 24/7.
Since 1926, railroaders have been under the discipline of the reactionary Railway Labor Act, which is designed to all but abolish strikes. But for even longer than this, the US government has not hesitated to use injunctions, as well as direct violence against the threat of strikes on the railroads. Eugene Debs, the early 20th century socialist leader and a railroader who led the 1894 Pullman Strike, described the state response to strikes as “government by injunction.” The last Congressional intervention into a railroad strike came in 1991, when the House voted by 400 to 5 to ban a national strike less than 24 hours after it began.
Hoyer’s claim that Congress would act to defend “our economy” is drenched with hypocrisy. While Wall Street and its political agents cynically use the prospect of shortages to try to whip up public opinion against a strike, American corporations have profited immensely from spiraling cost increases during the pandemic, which they would lose out on in the event of a strike. The Federal Reserve, to their approval, is jacking up interest rates in order to suppress wage growth, which is considered too high even though it does not come close to matching the rising cost of living.
83 years old. That's how old Steny Hoyer is. He needs to be out of Congress, This is ridiculous. These old assholes -- him, Pelosi, Biden, Feinstein -- are destroying the country. They're corrupt as hell. Maybe if it wasn't a lifetime post, there would be accountability? We have the most corrupt Congress in the world. I'm with Elaine, "They need to retire."
One more topic, whomever sent the Will Lehman announcement to the public e-mail account for The Common Ills (firstname.lastname@example.org), I don't post on Sunday. If it had arrived earlier, I would've noted the event. Sunday, C.I.'s the only one that goes into that account and she doesn't do it until the end of the night when she's writing her nightly post. So she didn't see the announcement until the event was over. She also noted it came in 90 minutes before the event was due to take place.
I support Will Lehman's campaign. But I don't post seven days a week and I don't usually ever post on Sunday (unless it's one a.m. Sunday morning). Click here for his campaign site. And here's a statement from his campaign site:
Why UAW university employees should vote for me for UAW president
Dear university employees,
My name is William Lehman. I am a 34-year-old second-tier autoworker at the Mack Trucks plant in Macungie, Pennsylvania, and I am running for president of the United Auto Workers union. I want to explain to the more-than 100,000 university employees in the UAW why I am running for president and ask for your vote.
My campaign is fighting to mobilize the UAW membership and the entire working class in a struggle to reverse decades of attacks on our living standards by the corporations.
A serious fight against the corporations, however, requires taking power from the pro-corporate UAW apparatus (which has total assets over $1 billion, and a yearly payroll of $75 million) and returning it to the workers. This requires the development of a network of rank-and-file committees on the shop floor to fight for our interests.
At the same time, my campaign is bringing a socialist and internationalist program to workers in the UAW and beyond. All the great problems we confront—unprecedented levels of social inequality, an escalating global war, the danger of fascism and dictatorship, environmental degradation—require the mobilization of the entire working class against capitalism.
We are holding direct elections for the UAW leadership this year because a large number of officials were convicted for stealing our dues money or accepting bribes from the corporations. The corruption scandal was not about a few “bad” leaders. It exposed the rot at the core of the entire bureaucratic level.
Whether we work in auto plants or classrooms, we all confront the impact of decades of pro-corporate betrayals by the UAW bureaucracy. As we face more and more hardship, corporate profits grow, university endowments increase, and the corporate and union executives get richer and richer.
The cost of living is hitting university employees and graduate students especially hard. Many of you live in Washington state, California, and New York, where it is nearly impossible to get by on a graduate student salary. The UAW just agreed to contracts at Columbia University and New York University with raises of 3 percent a year. With annual inflation running between 8-9 percent, this amounts to a huge pay cut, especially for workers in one of the world’s most expensive cities!
The same is true everywhere. When workers in the UAW go on strike—always after rejecting contracts that the UAW apparatus sought to ram through—we are isolated and strung out on poverty-level strike pay. When graduate students in the UAW went on strike at Harvard, Columbia and NYU in 2021, the UAW did nothing to even inform autoworkers, let alone mobilize us to support you. The same is true when auto and other manufacturing workers go on strike.
The UAW has become a union in name only. Many of you are new to the UAW, though you have already had important experiences with how the apparatus operates. I can tell you that if you go out to an auto plant and speak to workers, the constant refrain is: “The UAW is a business.” It serves to enforce the demands of the companies. It is dominated by an apparatus, including more than 450 officials who make over $100,000, that profits off our labor.
But we must also recognize that the operations of the UAW apparatus are bound up with its support for capitalism and its nationalist perspective.
Eastern Pennsylvania, where I live and work, used to be one of the world’s most productive regions in terms of industrial activity, and workers experienced some of the highest living standards here. This wasn’t because the companies were generous—workers waged powerful and often violent strikes, including the famous Bethlehem Steel strike of 1941, and won the right to fully paid pensions, better wages and necessary safety standards.
For the past four decades, however, the UAW and other unions have presided over the destruction of our living conditions. Plants were shut down, wages were slashed, and lives were ruined because the union officials told workers they had to accept cuts to compete with workers in other countries. This has happened throughout the industrial centers of the country. Democrats and Republicans changed positions at local, state and federal level, but conditions only get worse.
This is why I am running on a socialist platform. American capitalist society is in a state of collapse. The Biden administration is continuing the Trump administration’s COVID policies, as thousands and thousands die, with hardly any mention in the media. Trump and the Republicans continue their fascist plotting against democracy. The Democratic Party is leading a war against Russia and China, bringing the world closer to nuclear war than any point since the Cuban Missile Crisis, and wasting billions on weapons. The environmental catastrophe is nearing the point of no return. Three billionaires possess as much wealth as the poorest half of the population.
I just travelled the country to campaign at auto plants in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia, where I talked to autoworkers about socialism. I tell my coworkers that socialism means that the working class must control society’s wealth, since we produce it. It means that the world economy must be run to meet human need, not corporate profit. It means that the working class must democratically control society. It means building a political movement independent of both the Republican and Democratic parties.
I am receiving extraordinary support from workers across the country for this program. Even many workers who voted for Trump agree with this. To those of you who do not come from working class backgrounds, you must understand that it is both necessary and possible to build a socialist movement in the American working class.
There is also a powerful response from workers to an internationalist perspective. My campaign is about uniting workers throughout the world in defense of our common class interests. Many graduate students come from outside the United States, and you will recognize that the conditions workers confront here are the same as those faced by workers in every country.
I am opposed to all forms of nationalism. I specifically condemn and reject the anti-Chinese xenophobia that has been promoted throughout the pandemic by the corporate establishment and media, and is being used to lay the groundwork for war.
There are a lot of misconceptions about the working class at the universities. There are those in the more affluent sections of the population who think that workers, especially white workers, are “privileged,” backwards, racist and right-wing. Some people who believe these myths even call themselves “socialists,” though it has nothing to do with left-wing politics.
In the real world, workers of every race, gender and sexual orientation are heavily exploited and are looking for a way to unite and fight together. The politics of racial and gender identity are a tool of the corporations to pit us against each other and divide us. We are fighting not for privileges, but for equality.
To those of you on the campuses who are interested in genuine socialism: Orient your political activity to the working class, challenge the domination of postmodernism and identity politics in your university departments, and fight for the unity of the working class regardless of race or gender. That is what the working class wants, and that is what my campaign is fighting for.
I am asking you to vote for me and to join the fight to build a mass socialist movement today.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Monday:
New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency Friday for the entire state, as the polio outbreak continues to widen. The detection of the virus that causes polio in a wastewater sample in Nassau County, on Long Island, at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year appears to have been the tipping point.
According to state health officials, polio virus had been identified in 56 samples collected from wastewater in Rockland, Orange, and Sullivan counties, which extend northwest from New York City along the New Jersey and Pennsylvania border, as well as in the city itself, between May and August, and now Nassau in early September.
About 50 of these samples were genetically linked to the polio case diagnosed in a young Jewish man from Rockland County in June who had never been vaccinated. The county is home to a large community of the Hasidic (ultra-orthodox), whose vaccination rates have been much lower than the general population.
The symptoms of the young man included fever, stiffness in his neck, and weakness in his legs. The virus usually spreads through contamination with virus-laden fecal material. In this case, the polio virus was detected in his stool.
Troubling, however, is that seven of the samples have not been linked to the Rockland County case, implying there has been far more undetected community spread than previously thought. In the case of the young man in Rockland, he was probably infected a week to three weeks prior to presenting with symptoms. He hadn’t traveled abroad, but had attended a recent large gathering.
Polio was eliminated in the US back in 1979, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The last polio case in 2013 was in someone who caught the disease while traveling abroad. The current outbreak was caused by a vaccine-derived poliovirus, meaning someone who had been vaccinated with an attenuated poliovirus oral vaccine (the Sabin vaccine) had shed the virus, leading to community spread.
In the US, polio immunization is given by injection using an inactivated poliovirus vaccine (the Salk vaccine). Because it does not contain a live virus, there is no possibility of those vaccinated shedding the virus. On the other hand, the oral poliovirus vaccine, which has been a critical factor in eradicating the wild poliovirus around the world, induces immunity using a weakened live virus which under normal circumstances is not dangerous.
Healthcare providers reported an increase in pediatric hospitalizations across the country for severe respiratory illnesses last month, which may be linked to an enterovirus strain that causes rare neurologic complications, the CDC announced in a Health Alert Network advisory on Friday.
In August, clinicians and health systems in several regions of the U.S. reported an increase in children hospitalized for severe respiratory illnesses who also tested positive for rhinovirus (RV) or enterovirus (EV), the advisory stated. Upon further testing, more of those cases tested positive for enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), a non-polio enterovirus linked to uncommon neurologic complications.
Between April and August 2022, the CDC noted a substantial increase in EV-D68 cases among children who were tested at facilities within the New Vaccine Surveillance Network (NVSN), which has seven sites across the country. The number of EV-D68 cases identified at all sites between July and August this year was greater than those detected in 2021, 2020 and 2019, the agency said.
In most cases, EV-D68 causes acute respiratory illness in children, with common symptoms in hospitalized patients including cough, shortness of breath, and wheezing. Fever has also been reported in approximately half of known cases.
EV-D68 also has been associated with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a rare neurologic disorder that can result in muscle pain and limb weakness.
In the aftermath of the announcement of the death of the British Queen Elizabeth, Juju An tweeted: “I heard the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocide empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating.”
(An is a professor at Carnage Malian University, my alma mater, though the phrase literally means “nourishing mother” and I can’t say I got that from Carnage Malian Some seem to feel that they somehow got that from the late monarch, and I can’t say that I see that either.)
Twitter deleted the tweet and Carnage Malian put out a statement effectively condemning An’s remarks, each of which I think are absurd and dubious as others have noted.
But then An retweeted a tweet from Eugene Scott, national political reporter at the Washington Post:
The answer to Scott’s question, “When is the appropriate time to talk about the negative impact of colonialism?” is everyday. You’re swimming in it.
Today, 9/11, is a good day to talk about the negative impacts of colonialism: How the U.S., British and French governments cut up the Mideast leading to the rise of a colonial Israel and oppressive monarchies; how the US undermining the Arab nationalist Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1950s and 1960s and then attacking Iraq beginning in 1990 led inevitably to impoverishment, suffering and increasing instability in the region, including what is euphemistically called “blowback.”
The massive propaganda campaign that effectively began 20 years ago to invade Iraq should now be the focus of sustained attention if we had a cultural and media environment wanting to finally come to terms with its imperialist mindset, waging wars of aggression, occupying entire countries and employing systematic torture for those ends in the 21st Century.