On Friday December 2nd, 2022 Independent Socialist Group (ISG), Railroad Workers United, and Democratic Socialists of America worked together to protest a visit by Biden to Boston. The protest happened shortly after Biden signed legislation from Congress that imposed a contract that was rejected by the majority of Class 1 freight railroad workers. See our previous coverage of the battle over the railroad workers contract for more details about the contract (linked below). This legislative action, initiated and led by the Democratic Party, forced a rotten contract on union railroad workers and made any strike action taken by the railroad unions illegal.
About 200 people, including 20 ISG members and supporters, turned out to protest Biden as he met with British royals at the JFK Library on the UMass Boston Campus. ISG member and railroad worker, Nick Wurst spoke representing Railroad Workers United.
In his speech, Nick clarified the brutal nature of the contract that is being imposed and the attack on workers rights that the vote by Congress represents. He raised the need for the rail unions to be transformed, the need to take immediate workplace action, and for the need for a workers’ party to fight against the Democrats, Republicans, and anti-union legislation, which the crowd loudly agreed with.
“We are going to organize and fight within our unions to transform railway labor into a labor movement that represents all railroad workers and fights with all the strength available to it, and that builds links to the rest of the labor movement…to build a labor movement that’s taking on the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, and Joe Biden!”
Claire Bayler, another ISG member, spoke as a member of a rail union auxiliary and a railroad spouse. She raised key demands that the railroad unions need to fight for. She also pointed out how mass action and a workers’ party, independent of the two corporate parties, will be vital for rail unions (and any other unions) to defend and extend our rights, improve our living and working conditions, and fight for democratic, public ownership l of the railroads and the major parts of the economy.
“This decision by Biden and Congress shows us that we cannot rely on either corporate party…and we need to push the union leadership that for too long has accepted concessionary contracts and given away our benefits and our rights. We need to reclaim our unions as fighting organizations for the working class. And it is on rank-and-file members to do that.”
Other organizations, union members, and individuals participated in the protest, including Boston DSA, Harvard Union Graduate Workers Union, Clark Union Graduate Workers Union, Teamsters Local 170, Boston Revolutionary Socialists, UFCW, and AFSCME. Evren Palleres, a member of Teamsters 170 (personal capacity) and ISG, spoke against Congress imposing a contract,
“Never ever should labor ever submit itself to the whim of the government, neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party. We need our own party!”
The rally was reported on in the corporate media, including local and international news and radio. Discussion will continue in Railroad Workers United, Independent Socialist Group, and with other organizations in the area about more action to continue the fight, so please reach out if you are interested in getting involved.
National Day of Action Called by SMART-TD & BLET Dec. 13. Local Event Details to be announced.
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