Tuesday, November 29, 2022

All workers deserve paid leave

 After a period of silence, progressive members of Congress began to push back Tuesday as President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders moved ahead with plans to approve legislation that would prevent a nationwide rail strike by forcing workers to accept a contract deal without any paid sick days.

The president's endorsement of congressional action—and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) subsequent vowto swiftly bring legislation to the floor—sparked a furious response from rank-and-file rail union members, a majority of whom voted to reject the White House-brokered contract agreement that Biden and lawmakers are now trying to impose on workers, denying them the right to strike and stripping them of any leverage to negotiate a better deal.

As of this writing, a relatively small number of Democrats in Congress have publicly spoken out about the White House's position and the fast-approaching vote on rail legislation. Pelosi, who has described the Democratic Party as "the party of workers and workers' rights," told reporters on Tuesday that a bill could hit the floor as early as 9:00 am ET Wednesday.

It's unclear whether progressive House members will mount an effort to improve the tentative agreement by adding paid sick days—a central, longstanding demand of rail workers. Pelosi said the bill will seek to impose the tentative contract agreement "with no poison pills or changes to the negotiated terms."

"Last year, the rail industry made a record-breaking $20 billion in profits. They can afford to give their workers paid sick leave," Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) wrote on social media Tuesday. "The rail industry must put the quality of life of their employees over profits. I stand with rail workers."

Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.), who lost her Democratic primary race in June, tweeted Tuesday that "paid leave should be the bare minimum."

"Good Lord, this is the U.S., not a third world country," Newman wrote. "Paid leave has to be part of the deal. Period."

Another Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) member, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), asked, "Why wouldn't the rail companies just allow workers to have paid sick days?"

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Friday, November 4, 2022

This is the most consequential mid-term election in our lifetime. It’s about making sure that women can control their own bodies. It’s about combating climate change. Yes. It’s about whether we retain the foundations of American democracy. 

But, at a time when the very rich are getting richer while millions of working class families are falling behind, it’s also about the economy. Do we create an economy that works for all, or just wealthy campaign contributors and the 1%. 

Please take a few minutes to read an op-ed I wrote that appeared on the FOX website today. Thanks. - Bernie

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OPINION · Published November 4, 2022 2:00am EDT

Our economic crisis isn’t inflation, it’s corporate greed and the GOP will only make that worse

Corporate greed is at a 70-year high and oil companies are buying back stock, not lowering prices

By Sen. Bernie Sanders

As we enter the final week of the midterm election, voters are expressing deep concern about the state of the economy and inflation. They should.

Today, we live in an economy in which the billionaires are getting much richer while working families fall further behind. Unbelievably, while 60 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, we now have more income and wealth inequality than we have ever had in the history of our country – with three multi-billionaires owning more wealth than the bottom half of Americans. While employers squeeze workers and their unions for cuts to health care and other benefits, the CEOs of major corporations now make nearly 400 times more than their average employees – the largest employer-worker gap in our history.

During this campaign, my Republican colleagues talk a lot about inflation, and they are right to do so. Over the last year, Americans have become sick and tired of paying outrageously high prices for food, gas, health care, prescription drugs, housing and other necessities. 

Unfortunately, most Republicans completely ignore the underlying causes of inflation and the few "solutions" they do offer would make a bad situation even worse.

Yes. During this political season it is easy to blame President Joe Biden and Democrats for inflation. But that’s just not accurate.

Let’s be clear. Inflation is not unique to America. It is an international crisis. In the European Union, inflation is nearly 11 percent. In Germany, it is 11.6 percent. In the United Kingdom it is 10.1 percent. In Ireland, it’s 9.6 percent. In America, it’s 8.2 percent, much too high, but lower than it is throughout much of Europe.

The truth is that inflation is, to a significant extent, caused by the ongoing global pandemic, the break in international supply chains and the horrific war in Ukraine. But there is another major reason for inflation that too few people talk about. And that is the unprecedented level of corporate greed that we are now seeing.

According to a recent study, nearly 54 percent of the rise in inflation is directly attributable to the astronomical increase in corporate profit margins. In America today, while the working class struggles to put food on the table, fill up their gas tanks and heat their homes, corporate profits are at a 70-year high.

If you want to know why you are paying $4, $5, $6 for a gallon of gas, you should know that the profits of ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and Shell skyrocketed by 169 percent so far this year to $125 billion. These four huge oil companies are spending over $73 billion not to reduce gas prices at the pump but to buy back their own stock and increase dividends to their wealthy stockholders.

If you are wondering why you are paying 43 percent more for an airline ticket this year, you should know that profits are up 186 percent at American Airlines and 99 percent at United Airlines in the third quarter to nearly $1.5 billion. Yes. These are the same companies that received taxpayer assistance of more than $20 billion during the pandemic while cutting 6,400 jobs.

If you are wondering why global food prices skyrocketed by over 33 percent last year and are expected to go up another 23 percent this year, you should know that billionaires in the global food and agri-business industry became $382 billion richer during the pandemic. 

If you are wondering why we continue to pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, you should know that Pfizer has increased its profits by 42 percent so far this year to $26.4 billion. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Choosing Democracy: Elections: Which Side Are You On ?

Choosing Democracy: Elections: Which Side Are You On ?: We’re one week out from this election, and it comes down to recognizing who is on our side. Ask yourself: Who are the candidates trying to s...