When Hunter Biden negotiated his deal with Ukrainian energy giant Burisma, nobody stepped in to object to his monthly salary of $50,000. Nobody tried to stop him from securing 52 weeks per year of vacation time. Hunter, like anyone else negotiating salary, withheld his “labor” until his salary demands were met. Even the “Big Guy,” whoever he may turn out to be (*cough, cough*), negotiated a hefty 10 percent cut of a deal with Chinese Communist cutouts and without any specific promise of labor in return. The Bidens exercised their market freedom to negotiate the best possible return on their time.
It’s a good thing the Bidens don’t have to play by the same rules 46 just imposed on U.S. freight rail workers.
For those little people who operate the freight railroads in America, the Bidens have imposed a different set of rules. At the behest of the Biden Administration, Congress has taken up legislation forcing unions to accept a tentative agreement that the membership rejected in a ratification vote. You might recall that earlier this month, union membership voted to reject the tentative deal worked out by the representatives of labor and management. While some of the unions did vote to ratify the agreement, the largest and most important union rejected it.
Unions have one card to play at the negotiating table. Like Hunter Biden, they can threaten to withhold their labor. It’s the one thing a worker should always have the right to do. A company can easily absorb a few disgruntled employees calling in “sick” when they’re unhappy with the arrangement. Only by collectivizing this right to stop work can unions gain leverage in negotiations. Negotiating without leverage is just begging.
Railroad unions have a lot of leverage because their work is essential. If the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) workers unionized, nobody would fear their strike. In fact, things might run more harmoniously and efficiently if they did strike. In a high-inflation economy, undervalued but essential workers can and should use their leverage to command the best price for their labor. That’s why garbage men sometimes make more money than the DEI coordinator in the front office. And if it’s not that way now, it will be after the next strike.
Joe Biden loves to cultivate a pro-union image. But like almost everything with Biden, you get closer to the truth by mentally reversing what he says. For instance, Biden promised to “Ensure that workers can exercise their right to strike . . . The right of workers to withhold their labor, or to strike, is fundamental to balancing power in the workplace.” That’s what he said.
But what he means is exactly the opposite. Unions and corporations cannot comfortably coexist in the same coalition. Their interests cannot align without one or the other selling out their constituency. For some time, rank-and-file union workers have rightly questioned the Democratic Party’s too-cozy relationship with big business. Now, when the chips are down, Biden and so many in Congress have conspicuously sided with the interests of the rich and powerful over paycheck Americans. Since taking office, the Biden Administration has indirectly undermined working Americans with policies that allow floods of illegal immigration. And his inflationary policies likewise have sapped the value of the humble paycheck. But this latest betrayal is too conspicuous to ignore.
Because the Biden Administration has taken this action, the railroad workers’ unions have lost significant leverage at the bargaining table. The negotiations aren’t complete until after the membership and management ratify the agreement. Yes, a railroad strike would hurt the economy and make Joe Biden’s donors very upset. A true pro-labor president would not have interfered. If the railroad workers are that important, why shouldn’t they be free to negotiate the best deal possible without “pro-union” Joe interfering and shutting down the brinkmanship that necessarily attends a truly arms-length labor negotiation?
Biden’s claim of being a pro-union president is as phony as his claim that he drove a tractor-trailer. As the Guardian noted, “At no point in his career has Biden proven willing to take the slightest political risk on behalf of workers. His appearances in union halls occur when he needs something from labor,” observing that Biden’s 1988 presidential run imploded after he was caught plagiarizing a British Labour leader’s speech about relatives in coal mines, which Biden demonstrably did not have.
The sham is over. Joe Biden knows whose side he’s on. And now so does everyone else.