Betrayal of Rail Workers: Biden Visits Boston

By Sandy Eaton, RN, Labor Fightback Network

December 2, 2022

The basic contradiction within the House of Labor was starkly revealed today as US President Joe Biden visited Boston’s diverse working-class section of Dorchester, home base of US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, former building trades leader and Boston politician.

An estimated 200 workers and pro-labor demonstrators greeted Biden’s afternoon visit to the John F. Kennedy Library to meet the UK’s Prince of Wales. They sported signs calling on Biden to “Support Railroad Workers” and declaring “Striking Is a Human Right.” Called on short notice by Boston Democratic Socialists of America, this rally bore witness to ongoing exploitation of the working class in the US.

Earlier today, however, Biden was warmly embraced by Labor officials at the IBEW 103 union hall and training center. The occasion was a phone-banking session for US Senator Warnock’s re-election in Georgia.

Politico reported that a “grinning Biden was met with a standing ovation and a ‘we love you, Joe.’ … Lou Antonellis, the Local 103 business manager, told reporters that ‘the president has already established himself as the most pro-labor, pro-worker president in the history of the United States.’ He declined to answer questions about the president’s handling of the rail strike.”

The Boston Globe interviewed Kennedy Library protesters and reported: 

“Nick Wurst, a freight train conductor with CSX and a member of Rail Workers United who works out of Framingham, said it is ‘unacceptable’ that politicians ‘who have unlimited sick time’ can make this decision on behalf of rail workers ‘who are exhausted, who are on call 24/7 365, who move goods all across the country and who have been through – pardon my French – who have been through hell in the last three years.”

Paul Garver, a member of Democratic Socialists of America, is quoted as saying that Biden was unfairly overriding the demands of the workers by signing the measure. “The railway workers deserve scheduling relief and paid sick leave, and that’s the will of the people – and to simply impose it without that is to just give into the lobbying of the railroad industry,” he said.

Railroad Workers United, the rank-and-file caucus uniting workers across the range of unions involved, issued a press release today.

“This one-two punch from the two political parties is despicable,” according to RWU General Secretary Jason Doering. “Politicians are happy to voice platitudes and heap praise upon us for our heroism throughout the pandemic, the essential nature of our work, the difficult and dangerous and demanding conditions of our jobs. Yet when the steel hits the rail, they back the powerful and wealthy Class One rail carriers every time.”

Class struggle unionism versus class collaboration. Which side are you on?

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