Democrats sided against labor this week in a stunning move, undermining three years of negotiations between rail workers and management.

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This week, President Joe Biden and Democrats in the House and Senate opted to force unpopular contracts on four rail unions whose members had previously rejected the terms in order to prevent a strike.

"It was tough for me but it was the right thing to do at the moment -- save jobs, to protect millions of working families from harm and disruption and to keep supply chains stable around the holidays," the president said of his decision.

As Ross Grooters noted in JACOBIN, the move ended three years of negotiations and preemptively broke the nation’s first national rail stoppage in three decades. Congress had the authority to impose the labor agreement on rail workers and management thanks to a 1926 law called the Railway Labor Act. The new contract that will take effect includes pay increases over five years and five lump-sum payments, but no paid sick days. The unions had asked for 15 and management offered one.

Conscious of appearances, Democratic lawmakers also voted on a separate measure to give the rail workers seven days of paid sick leave, but because it was not tied to the strikebreaking, it predictably died in the Senate. The separation of the measures into two votes came following the urging of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business lobby. Following the vote, the Chamber was crowing about its work.

It is a maneuver we have seen before. When the House separated the conservative bipartisan infrastructure bill from the larger Build Back Better spending package that included climate funding, it doomed the latter while allowing Democrats to blame Republicans and lament its failure.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Democratic leadership in the House, the Senate, and the White House have made clear that economic stewardship is their biggest priority — even over public health and labor considerations. That is why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s emergency temporary standards never extended to every workplace despite an early draft of those standards acknowledging that the threat of COVID indeed reached that far. And it is why Democratic leaders and public health officials are not doing more to raise awareness about long COVID, which vaccines do not fully protect against, and the serious health complications that have been linked to prior infection — stroke, heart problems, neurological damage, diabetes, etc.

The big goal is economic normalcy.

For more on the rail strike and labor, check out these stories from OptOut participating outlets.

THE LEVER analyzed how much paid sick days for rail workers would cost.

Senators Help Donors Derail Paid Sick Days
The rejected proposal to provide rail workers sick leave would have cost railroad barons just four days worth of their recent profits, according to financial records.
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THE MAJORITY REPORT explained how House progressive votes came down.

THE RATIONAL NATIONAL did a segment on CNN’s Jake Tapper grilling Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg over the rail workers being denied paid sick leave.

JACOBIN wrote about the dysfunctional state of the National Labor Relations Board.

Come January, Federal Workers Might Not Have a Functioning Labor Board
The Biden administration has not prioritized pushing through a confirmation of a member of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, which oversees labor issues for federal workers. The result is that federal unions are far weaker than they should be.
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The unchecked influence of big money in politics is an existential threat to American democracy and one of the major issues of our time. OptOut participating outlets do some of the best money-in-politics reporting around!

THE INTERCEPT tracked fossil fuel spending on the Georgia Senate runoff on behalf of Republican candidate Herschel Walker.

Fossil Fuel-Funded Super PAC Eyes $11.5 Million Spending Operation for Herschel Walker in Final Days
Leaked documents show the Empowerment Alliance, a dark-money group tied to the energy industry, is planning to inject $1.5 million into the Georgia runoff to turn voters out.
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THE CENTER FOR MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY (CMD) exposed the American Legislative Exchange Council, a Koch-backed, corporate nonprofit that provides model pro-business legislation the lawmakers, for overstating the number of legislators who are members.

ALEC Has Half the Legislative Members It Claims - EXPOSEDbyCMD
The American Legislative Exchange Council grossly overstates the number of state lawmakers who are members of the organization, internal documents obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy show.
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CMD also had a piece exposing Charles Koch’s funding of educational institutions across the country and around the world.

Charles Koch Distributes $82 Million to 140 Colleges and Universities - EXPOSEDbyCMD
Billionaire Charles Koch’s personal foundation disclosed $81.7 million in grants to 140 colleges and universities in its 2021 IRS filing.
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MATT STOLLER’S BIG put out a story on how government contractors are renting access to our national parks back to the public.

Why Is Booz Allen Renting Us Back Our Own National Parks?
In 2017, consulting giant Booz Allen cut a deal with the government to extract junk fees from Americans who want to use Federal lands and waters for hunting or fishing. Will Congress or Biden act?
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DRILLED covered the return of the coal lobby and "old school" climate denial.

Drilled Down: Old School Climate Denial Is Back
Two things the media and much of the climate movement tends to dismiss as long past—old-school climate denial and the coal lobby—are still around and having a bit of a renaissance.
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Did you see our first LGBTQ+ newsletter by Liana DeMasi? Sign up for free now!


THE APPEAL put out a shocking story this week about how San Francisco police are seeking authorization to use robots to kill people and what it could mean for departments around the country.

Cops Are Asking to Kill People With Robots. What Could Go Wrong?
Multiple major cities including San Francisco and Oakland this year have considered obtaining armed police robots that can kill people.
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THE APPEAL published another piece about the troubling implications of New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ directive to remove homeless individuals exhibiting signs of mental illness from the streets.

NYC Advocates Fear More Police Violence, Homeless Criminalization Amid Forced Hospitalizations
New York City Mayor Eric Adams issued a directive this week that puts police at the center of renewed efforts to remove people exhibiting signs of mental illness from public spaces.
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THE KANSAS REFLECTOR released an article this week about how Wichita Police had spent $150,000 on legal fees, defending the department’s use of a gang list.

Wichita has spent $150,000 on legal fees in defense of police gang list - Kansas Reflector
City of Wichita has paid $150,000 in legal fees to defend itself from litigation over the police department’s use of a gang list.
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Did you see our first New York newsletter by Samira Asma-Sadeque? Sign up for free now!


Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover has shined a spotlight on prejudice in the U.S. In the Musk Era, the platform has seen an explosion of vitriol and hate. Kanye West went on Alex Jones’ InfoWars this week along with white nationalist Nick Fuentes and proceeded to have a metldown in which he repeatedly expressed his appreciation for Nazis and Adolf Hitler. West, who had been welcomed back onto Twitter by Musk, was suspended finally following the appearance.

POWER REPORT broke down the absolutely bonkers InfoWars segment with West and Fuentes.

Musk didn’t conjure these forces by himself. Republican politicians have stoked racial resentment for decades.

THE NATION published a critical story about Republican rhetoric.

Targets of Hate
The GOP’s rhetoric inspires violent actions.
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