Hey, very happy Hanukkah. Happy Hanukkah, Virgil, happy Hanukkah, happy sixth night of Hanukkah, a bunch of nights.
I'm not Jewish. I assume people assume I'm not Jewish. OK. I've got Jewish.
I admire the Jewish people. What are you. Virgil? I'm not Jewish. What am I just giving up? I'm a I'm a shiksa.
Is this going to be a process of elimination? Every major holiday?
We got to ask you, if you aren't the thing that people are celebrating so we can narrow it down to give a tip, a tip of the, you know, give a little tip of that to our Jewish friends on the Festival of Lights, which is what it's called, because there's the the candles. Yeah.
And you are giving the barest outlines of Hanukkah something I well, it's it's not a real holiday. Oh, OK.
OK, that's going to get me in trouble. But I will ask you to ask Jewish people and they're like, it's not a real thing.
I think there is some truth to the fact that because of its alignment with Christmas on the calendar and the nature of Christmas as the predominant holiday in America, that Hanukkah has like, well, swollen to occupy that same kind of territory and grandeur and like emphasis here because of that something I've noticed something I realize there is no adult version of Hanukkah.
What do you mean in that way? In the way that, like, adults would have like friends giving you know, you don't go back home, you just go out with your friends and you do a Thanksgiving.
The adults will celebrate Christmas together and just do like fun stuff like, you know, like the like a white elephant.
Uh, OK, well, you know, that kind of stuff.
But you've never had a just like adults celebrating Hanukkah, like like adults just getting together and being like, you know, hey, yeah, come over, we're going to we're going to light the candle and then sing a song.
You don't think that families with adult children like we have all adults. I mean, there's no like little kids in my family. And we still exchanged gifts at Christmas. And in families with adult Jewish children, they're still not getting Hanukkah presents.
No, no. They're not doing the things that one, the presents are not fun because there's like eight days. Seven wait, wait. Eight crazy nights.
Yes. Adam Sandler. There's eight days. Yeah. So I remember things very well.
This is how I know things because they nights which is like eight to president. So that means like there's not one night where you're getting a freaking Xbox. No.
Every night it's like here's a pouch of, uh, chocolates that are shaped like coins. Um, enjoy.
Well we definitely we get those anyway in our household. I grew up with that book, that children's book. Herschell in the Hanukkah Goblin's.
What was it written by J.K. Rowling?
Oh, it is a Calicut metal award winning children's book.
It's very popular today. I'm sorry that this right is held accountable for all the gold medal winner who served our country.
OK, first of all, this is taking about a 94, but that seems late, given what my memories are of having read it.
But at any rate, we I grew up in a nondenominational household that my mother was always making some kind of overture to, not some other religion. Even though the nature of America is that everyone does this like it's subsumed into Christian traditions.
So I remember reading that and we definitely had dreidels. And my mother loves the gold coins and there's literally a bowl of them downstairs right now as I speak.
Dreidels an interesting game, but it's kind of it's kind of broken. It's like, okay, okay. Yeah, yeah. It's I said betrayal is a salt game like checkers.
OK, Virgil, I feel like I interrupted your bit and I desperately, desperately want you go.
I don't even know what the bid is anyway. My point is there should be an adult Honaker OK.
And like adults you just got together would be like, you know, hey, it's Hanukkah and having a Hanukkah party, well, it's going to hang out and we're going to do the dreidel. We're going to light the candles and get drunk.
I would support that. I mean, I feel a little bad that, you know, all of the Gois on this podcast can't really weigh in on the merits of that.
You know, it's not my place to co-sign the adult Hanukkah, but it sounds like a blast to me. And I welcome an invitation, Daddy. But he's the Hanukkah party.
If there's an adult Hanukkah party happening, let us know about it. Check us out on Twitter at Bad Faith Pod because we Bad Faith podcast was too many letters. It sucks. Yes.
Let's go beyond. I'm a little bit embarrassed to admit this, but the night that I made the speech at National Airport, I didn't even talk about general strike.
I had talked about a general strike earlier in the week, but I talked about the real dangers of the government shutdown. And it kind of it kind of went viral. And people oftentimes conflate that speech with the general strike speech anyway.
So I have to admit, I being just a little teeny union president, went online and read the comments on social media on the now this post. And so some of the comments were things like, well, I couldn't really pay attention to what she was saying because can you believe her issue?
Ninety nine days and I would go to these pages and it was like, you know, feminist, progressive woman like, hello. Yeah, but the comments, the comments can be proud of.
First of all, as per the interest in Princess Diana and the Crown 90s eyeshadow is in first and for.
Oh, so I was told so well. So you always look amazing that I think I think part of the appeal, it's a difficult place to be in.
Right. As a progressive woman, where you can you have to kind of recognize that there is a visual component to your presentation and that you can get people in the door on a certain level by, you know, being appealing in a certain way, but also not wanting to be limited to being perceived in that way. And it's a it's a real double edged sword.
Yeah, yeah. You know what? This is what I think. I think if you're a woman, they're going to comment on your parents no matter what. And I feel like the more that you can just sort of array some of that and embrace the roadblocks to what you're saying, the better off you are. And what I find is that especially actually flight attendants train me on this way. Of course, you know, I mean, my real training as representing flight attendants.
And so it mattered to them how I was appearing. So the first couple of times when I was union president and I would appear on TV, they'd be like, oh, you look great, you know?
And little did they know. Of course, when I started flying, I was from Oregon. I was like I grew up sort of been granola world and I was completely opposed to wearing makeup. So I went out and I actually took a makeup class. When I became the thing, I'm like, oh, my God, they're all going to expect me to look perfect. So sure enough. So I took the makeup class. I did the first few TV interviews, and this is all people said like, oh, you like to do listen to a thing I said.
But what I found was that it's like I had to get through that and then they could hear what I was saying. And so I just feel like it's just like removing the roadblocks to that. Right.
And just remove as many roadblocks as you can get in the room and remove as many roadblocks as you can.
It's also been said that I look like I'm about to solve a mystery involving a handkerchief.
So I find you saw it sort of mysteriously sexy.
Oh, yeah. You can say that. Oh, this is already shaping up to be the best interview we've ever done on this show.
Just turning color. Should should we think in the same color as Mike.
Now, Michael, come on.
You've got the Michael things up for this interview. It's perfect, actually.
You want to sink in and I'll do the intro and then you'll take it away, OK? All right.
OK, so what are we going to do it OK.
I'm going to count down from three to one and then after one. Everyone, please clap three to one.
Please put your seat backs to the upright position and get ready for takeoff, because today's guests, its flight attendant and international president of the Association of Flight Attendants CWA, Sarah Nelson.
Thank you so much, Sarah. And thank you so much for that introduction, Virgil, I have never seen you this flustered.
I'm genuinely charmed and stunned by virtually. Just say that. Say another thing.
OK. All right.
I'll spare you my friend Sarah. Everybody wants to talk to you right now, particularly everybody on the left, because so many of us have such a. Piss poor, for lack of a better word, embarrassing education when it comes to unions organizing and what can be done in this moment in the wake of the Democratic primary in the in the in the general election, when the progressive candidates obviously didn't make it through. A lot of folks are wondering what power we have in the midst of this crisis to make the world better.
And you, as one of the most visible and senior members of a major union president of a major union have become someone that people are looking to.
So can you start by telling us a little bit about your background and how you got into this position? And then we'll talk a little bit more about the arrows in your quiver, as you put it, to use it to use another flight metaphor?
Well, first of all, thing that I'm seeing here is super exciting because in aviation, we negotiated that seniority list in nineteen forty six and that was the basis of beating back all the discriminatory practices that had flight attendants quit when they were age 30. Have to step on a weight scale until nineteen ninety three.
You couldn't you couldn't be a man, you couldn't be married, you couldn't have kids. All of these things. Anyway, that seniority list in nineteen forty six was the basis for all of those discriminatory fights because for the first time we had the basis to say that you couldn't managers couldn't try to force flight attendants to have trade sex for schedules and it was the basis for fighting all the ageist efforts and to recognize that with maturity comes actual experience that is valuable.
And so I love that you said that I'm senior. That is great, because in the aviation industry, because we change this into a career that anyone with the heart of a flight attendant can have, people stay a long time. So do we did any more?
Everything already been chronologically seen here. Just a minute. Power and like hierarchy and. Yes, I get it.
I get it. Know, I actually I actually love the women who taught me about doing this work.
They built a union that really didn't have any respect from anyone from the outside. I mean, we built that respect for ourselves and we scrapped it out. And I didn't really understand what sexism was even until I became a union president. And I remember a very senior flight attendant taking me to the side my first week on the job. And she said, listen, management thinks of us as their wives or their mistresses, and in either case, they hold us in contempt.
Your only place of worth is with your fellow flying partners. And if you wear your union pin and we stick together, there's nothing we can't accomplish. And that was a lot to take for a twenty three year old fresh out of company training, let me just tell you. But those words really still ring in my head today. And when I started to do the union work and got to the bargaining table, I understood exactly what she meant. And so it is an extraordinary thing that we were able to recognize by the time of the government shutdown that planes don't take off if pilots don't fly them, but they also don't take off if flight attendants don't staff them.
And that's because my union made sure that the government certified our jobs and made sure that there were a minimum of flight attendants on that plane. And people can make all the jokes in the world that they want. But we carved out this role as aviation's first responders and we were able to show that women who have been traditionally marginalized or objectified have real power at work. And so that turns on its head sort of the idea of who has power in this country.
And when it comes down to it, it's really a labor of all kinds has power. And if we think about who we think comes from central casting and unions today, you think about the mine workers, for example. But the mine workers, when they formed their union, they were immigrants from all over the world and they were treated as though their lives meant nothing. In fact, the donkeys that carried the coal that they loaded up meant more than their own lives.
The companies traded those donkeys with more preciousness than the lives of those miners. And so it's always been workers joining together and finding out that when we come together and we refuse to give our labour to a system that's going to exploit us, that that's when we have enough power to move forward, make real demands and make real. And so that's that's where we are and and I think that we've done more to actually lift progressive ideas and bring them into the mainstream, but the only way that we're going to really push these ideas forward into actual policy that gets enacted is to organize and unions.
Walter Reuther was one of the first to talk about health care as a human right and as the president of the UAW and a socialist negotiated health care and those union contracts. That wasn't just so that there could be employer based health care in this country and that they could it could just be union health care that was negotiated that was supposed to prime the pump for the political momentum to make this a right for anyone, because unions really just lead the way on these ideas.
It's not supposed to stop in the union hall. It's supposed to be setting a standard for everyone. And the more political power that we have with the more people organized, the more likely that we're going to win on these ideas just to continue on this line.
How do you square that with what we saw during the Democratic primaries of one of the lines of argument disingenuously used against Medicare for all that?
Oh, that's going to take away union health insurance that you fought for?
Look, I think that we just have to be really practical about this. I mean, those with power and control are always looking for ways to divide the working class. And traditionally, they have used sexism, they've used racism, they've used religion. They have used any form of freedom of expression to try to divide people against each other. They've used your documented status to be able to work here. But now they also use political ideology and they'll use something like union membership and a union negotiated plan.
I don't think that we can take for granted the fact that there are union members who struck, who made real sacrifices for their families to get that health care. And so they fed into that idea that this is something that you fought for and why should someone else get it for free? And they used that idea that they have built up the capitalists have built up that if someone else has something that you want, you're going to take from them, or if someone wants something that you have, they're going to take from you to get it.
As opposed to when we all do better, we all do better. Right. I mean, if we're all negotiating for health care, obviously those health care prices are going to go down. We see that all across the world. But the the capitalists and the corporatists, they understand how to divide and is the most common tactic is called a union busting tactic. But they've figured out how to use it on the general public. And that's all that's going on there.
And I think that we have to recognize that we can't take that for granted in a union hall. You actually have people from all different backgrounds, from all different faiths, from all different political ideologies. But when you have demands against the boss, you've got to all come together. And if you don't have a strike vote, that's 90 percent or better, that strike is not going to work. So how do you bring people together? I mean, think about that.
In our political world, 90 percent of people agreeing on something that's like unheard of in the political sphere. Right. But it happens every day in a union hall when workers decide that they're going to take on the boss and actually demand better. And we've seen strikes all across the country and those strikes were practically unanimous in participation that we're successful. Right. So it's not impossible. It is the place to happen. And I think the biggest problem that we have as quote unquote progressives is that we don't have the backbone of the labor movement leading us because we're made up of a whole bunch of groups of self-selecting organizations where we don't really have to listen to each other or we don't really have to build a consensus and we don't where we don't have to build common demands.
That's the biggest problem. So it's never going to change unless we organize and unless we're forced to try to have conversations with people that we otherwise think we don't agree with.
So how would you recommend setting about doing this? Because, you know, we recently had did a podcast episode with Boots Riley, who really pointed to to labor as the most powerful tool in our arsenal at this moment and really lamented that in the 60s into the 70s, activism really became decoupled from labor and became centered in academia where good thinking can happen. But it's now an attenuated leap to go and actually put things into practice and to be able to actually grind economic years to a halt in a way that can actually affect political.
Right, whereas marching in. The street can be motivating to the public and change people's hearts and minds, it has less coercive power than labor shortages.
So we kind of understand there's certain historical reasons that led to the decline of people participating in unions and decline of the labor movement. But what should people think to do in this moment? To start the idea of organizing one's workplace, especially in this moment when so many people are at home, seems really daunting.
It does. It does. But I do want to recognize that we're all going to be back in our work spaces very soon. And this is going to be a relative blip on the screen, this this moment of coronavirus. But let's not take it for granted. We have had a shared experience here that has been unlike anything that we've experienced in the last hundred years. This is a moment where we can actually relate to each other in a way that we never could otherwise.
And look at the work that has been done that people are suddenly paying attention to that has some sort of value. At least they want to give it a fancy name, essential worker.
I don't actually want to pay those people or make sure that they are working and safe working conditions. But but workers are rising up. I mean, grocery workers again, just today, I saw one more hazard pay. Right. And it shouldn't just be hazard pay. I mean, what they're really saying is we're not making enough on a daily basis to actually come and do our job under normal situations. So we should be raising the value of those jobs all the time.
I think about this as flight attendants. We have been so disrespected for years and years and years for our work. And this was supposed to be the year that we were going back to the bargaining table. After all the bankruptcies that were after 9/11 and the consolidation and the mergers. I do just want to note that there's been a decline in union membership for a couple of reasons. There's been a decline in union membership because of austerity, because of scarcity, because of consolidation.
A lot of times companies will consolidate and they will kick the union out in the process. We had that experience. Northwest flight attendants lost their 60 years of bargaining in the merger with Delta. The management ran the anti-union campaign and and we lost that vote by a tenth of a percent in twenty thousand people voting. So unions have been pushed out through all these business maneuvers, but they've also been pushed out because the laws have been set up against the workers and against the workers rights to organize and in some cases even setting up business models where they try to argue that workers don't even have the right to organize like gig workers kinsinger a gig walk or you don't you shouldn't have any rights.
And so they'll do anything that they can to define what workers rights. One good thing about that is that we're getting back to a place where if workers have no rights, we also have nothing to stop us from taking action.
And so the laws, when you don't have any rights to organize, you don't have any rights not to strike. Right. And so originally, one hundred years ago, this is the way the lot of unions were formed, was that that worker struck for recognition, workers struck for even the right to have their union. And that's really kind of where we're getting back to. So just to get back to your question, I mean, we can take this shared experience of coronavirus and recognize that, ah, that the politicians are not going to do it for us.
I mean, people are people have lost their unemployment, right? 12 million people are going to lose any rights on any unemployment at all. The day after Christmas, 30 to 40 million people on December thirty first are at risk of being evicted from their homes. More people are going to die from homelessness and poverty in this country than coronavirus that has killed more people at a higher rate than any crisis that we've ever faced in this country. Any one day alone.
Right. We're seeing very clearly that the politics are not working for us. And certainly the government shutdown was another example of that. We had to step out of that process and say, wait a minute, you know, these these politicians are there to represent us.
In the nineteen fifties, there's this flyer that says GOP young Republicans holding Labor Night. Well, why were they holding Labor Night in the nineteen fifties? Because union representation in the country was at a total of 40 percent density. So if, if we have, if we have unions and we have workers who are forming together and form, I mean these this legal association to stay together and have this legal right to have a say in their workplace, which.
Is where capital exists, and I'll give you one other example of this LGBTQ rights, our union was at the forefront of fighting for LGBTQ rights in the workplace. We negotiated in the United Airlines contract domestic partner benefits so that people could actually share their pension, share their health care, share their past travel as flight attendants. And then we testified in the San Francisco City hearings, which was the first city ordinance to extend these domestic partner benefits. Right?
Well, we were there not only as the union, but United Airlines was also there supporting. Why? Because we had already won it in the union contract and United Airlines, one of the other corporations, to have to compete at the same level because otherwise they were at a competitive disadvantage. So by winning in our workplace and making the corporation have to meet our demands, we suddenly brought capital to the fight because they wanted every other company to have to meet them on the same ground.
OK, so this is the kind of power that we need and can have by organizing and our unions and is totally missing from the political process today. And that is why are we seeing a complete breakdown in our democracy, not to mention not moving forward on progressive values and ideas.
To that end, it seems like, OK, you've identified as a society we have now identified and given a name to people that we're calling essential workers, because after much, much delay, we recognize that we literally can't move forward without them, the people who cannot stay home.
And yet there's an enormous gap between that labeling and the goods and, you know, the safety net that's been delivered to these people. So to your point, boosted, unemployment ended, and now we're in these negotiations about a one off six hundred dollar. You know, we had a presidential campaign in which for some reason, Democratic leadership didn't carry the mantle of a recurring monthly check, which is overwhelmingly popular in this country and arguably could have prevented a lot of this recount malarkey that Joe Biden has had to deal with over the last couple of months.
To use this terminology. Yes, we might have, I would argue, fared much better down ballot if we had championed these kinds of issues.
We're going to do better in Georgia if they step up right now. By the way, if these are these are pretty big ifs. Right. I saw a more knock tweeted today that he was maybe I'm sorry. I think it was actually Asaph that tweeted today about monthly checks and supporting them. And that's nice to hear.
But it does feel a little a little late, not to mention the fact that we just came out of Thanksgiving holiday.
We're going into Christmas. There have been all of these demonstrations about not traveling and how dangerous it is. And yet there seems to have been very little structurally, very few structural barriers put in place that would make travel safer. So, you know, other countries that have quarantine periods, you know, there's temperature checks and airports, what's going on here?
And because flight attendants are in this really crucial role where you can grind the gears of travel substantively in this country to a halt, you know, what should we expect or what should the next steps be if both parties on the whole, obviously Democrats are much more responsive than the Republicans are, but neither is really stepping up in the way that is necessary and that other countries have done in terms of stopping the spread of covid and supporting me who've been affected by it.
I mean, OK, so we want to get into covid and the response, both in terms of health care and the financial response. One thing that that people are surprised about, because it's an easy thing to say, oh, we're not going to bail out the airlines again. But what people don't realize is that because the airlines are 80 percent organized, we actually put forward a plan that looks much more like workers in Europe are enjoying than anyone else here in America.
So we actually put forward the plan. We in fact well, luckily, luckily, we had Chairman DeFazio, Peter DeFazio, who's the chairman of the Transportation Infrastructure Committee, who has been doing this work for a long time. But he understands labor. He's both a policy wonk and he's he's a true a true labor guy. And he said to the airlines, I'm not going to talk to you until you talk to labor. And so we actually kind of had a negotiations, very fast negotiations before the Carers Act was passed in March.
And I told the airlines, I said, listen, the public hates you, OK?
Well, we kind of hate you, too, because you took our pensions and you cut our pay and you took our work rules.
So we're working longer than ever, just like everybody else in this country will be the most productive workers in the world, actually. But but we didn't get to know the value of that. Right. And so, you know, this is this is a crisis and this is not. You're not going to be in control of the money that you get from the government and you're about to go out of business tomorrow because this is such a I mean, I don't think people understand the level of this crisis and how fast this descended upon our country, but certainly upon the airline industry where suddenly we're not flying to anywhere in the world and travel off.
Ninety seven percent. I mean, there's no business in the world that can survive that. Right. So so we said to them, we said, OK, so nobody likes you. You're you're not going to be in charge of this. But we're going to craft something that's for the workers and it will also save the structure of the airlines at the same time because we're a people business. So this is going to be structured like it is in other countries where the money goes to keeping workers on the job connected to our jobs and our health care.
And, oh, by the way, you're going to have to agree to a cap on executive compensation after the relief ends. And you're going to have to agree to a ban on stock buybacks and dividends because this is not going to go to enriching the shareholders. This is just going to be about the workers and the infrastructure of the airline industry that needs to continue in order to fight the virus. So we got that. We actually got that. We got the terms that look very much like many of the terms that are around the world, except that it wasn't just a payroll support, because in the United States, as we've talked about, you actually have to have a job to also have health care.
So in other countries, they could have this payroll support and they could have companies opt into it and get a tax credit for that. Right. But in this country, we had to have a law that said, no, it's actually going to be payroll support where the money goes directly and they use the the payroll administration at the airlines so that the government doesn't become an H.R. solution, but it just flows right through to the workers paychecks and there can be no layoffs.
And people continue to have their health care and continue to have their social benefits and be and be able to pay into the economy and support other jobs, too. So we kept the airlines intact. We kept that infrastructure intact. That all expired on September 30th. And that's why you saw furloughs after that. And that's what we're fighting for now, is to reinstate this and get people back to work and reinstate this. But that was the power of being 80 percent organized.
So we had a very different plan in terms of health and safety. We had no plan from this government. So No. One, we had a government that that said this was a hoax. It didn't even actually exist. So we weren't even naming the problem. We couldn't even agree that there was a problem. Right. And so it's really, really hard to address public health issues when you're not even willing to admit that there is one. But we because again, because we have the unions, we called for those mass policies of the airlines.
And in fact, actually, one week after demanding that the government put this in place, we got all the airlines to voluntarily put these mass policies in place. Then we said you're not enforcing them enough. And so they started returning the airplanes to the gate when people weren't wearing them. And that was reported in the press. And so we started we started to be able to actually have enforcement mechanisms that are not as good as the government enforcing these things.
But our workspace became safer. And guess what? covid related cases for flight attendants and pilots went down after these policies went into place. That's because the union was there. That's because the union was on the front line and fighting for these policies. It included cleaning on the airplane, included a change in our service procedures that helped to cut down on the contact. It included the filtration, the air filtration on the planes. I mean, these were all things that we fought for and we got and the airlines were better off because they could say how safe they were, except that our government wasn't interacting with it at the same time.
So the CDC was still saying you shouldn't be traveling, and yet the airlines are still operating in a capitalist system where they keep lowering and lowering the ticket prices. So we've got more and more people buying tickets to go to the beach in Florida and also the airplane door and thinking that wearing a mask is a political decision rather than a public health necessity, and then had flight attendants getting punched.
And so all this was very difficult to do just with the union and the company without the government also participating. But I'm just going to tell you, we were way better off because we had the union there and we actually got the companies to be responsive to our demands.
Are there still action items that you are agitating for?
I mean, are there big? Because there do seem to be we did a we did a Cauvin episode right before Thanksgiving. And one of the things that the guests were talking about, one was a doctor and one is a public health. Journalist, there were both doctors, yes, one was a medical doctor. Well, you told me they were both. But what is the medical doctor believe is telling me?
You tell me I look like a moron. You're right.
They were both doctors when I asked this guy for medical advice like that was not an actual doctor is what I'm hearing now when he asked me to take my clothes off. That was weird.
I do, you know, but, you know, one of the things we were talking about is the the kind of cognitive dissonance that travelers or prospective travelers are experiencing as they like. Well, I want to do the right thing, but this is we're really so dangerous. You know, we live in America and America's litigious country. And there's kind of this expectation that if something was really dangerous and it could, you could sue over it and they wouldn't let you do it.
Right. There's it's what keeps America safe. I said then, you know, I've lived in countries that weren't that way and things are dangerous and don't take anything for granted. So, you know, when you get on a plane and your food is still served until there's an expectation you're going to eat. I took a train myself.
I haven't flown since this, but I took a train and it's like I don't tell her that I'm actually fine with it, but look at the East Coast limit.
Maybe I can get away. I get it.
But, yeah, it's, you know, the capias car cars open. And I thought to myself, I might get a snack, but oh gosh, if I get a snack, I'm taking my mask off. Right. What what kind of incentives are being set up here? And it makes you feel as though, you know, you're not so simple. I mean, the media narrative is all these you know, people are dumb trump anti masking lunatics.
But there are a lot of incentives that are contradictory.
That's exactly right. In which teach people that a certain kind of risky behavior is acceptable.
OK, so what are our demands? I mean, our demands in the world would be take our payroll support system and use it for every other industry, because then you can say, let's have a stay at home order, OK? Yes, you have the essential work continue and you have certain protections for those people in that work. But everyone is protected. Everyone stays protected by staying connected to their paycheck, connected to their health care, able to care for their families.
And we're able to bring this down and actually contain the virus, remove the public health threat, take the stress off of our hospitals and health care facilities. Our nurses and doctors have been working around the clock and all the support staff there, too. Let's not forget about them, the people at the sanitation workers. Right, right. So take the stress off of them. Have the national mask mandate. Be serious about. This is an issue that we're going to take on as a nation.
This is what I want. We put a template in place in the airline industry with our payroll support program that really should be used for every other industry. It should use, be used for every other industry, not only to give that financial support, but to give us the actual financial support, to be able to make good public health decisions. So one of the things that we're seeing now that the payroll support has ended with the airline industry is that we were able to actually bargain for very comprehensive and really liberal sick leave policies.
If you've got a little tickle in your throat, stay home, don't come to work. We're going to cover you and we're not going to discipline you for that, which would be the normal course of business that they could sort of count that against you and use it in some sort of progressive discipline. We got rid of all that and and we got people to be paid for those policies that is getting eroded. And the quarantine times, all the good decisions that we can make to try to stop the risk or minimize the risk of the spread, even in a business that is essential, it's essential that air travel continue and and not just for the people on the planes.
A lot of people don't think about this, but those planes, those passenger planes carry half of the cargo that moves around the country. So everybody who's getting those deliveries to their homes, those deliveries are not happening without passenger jets taking off and coming down half of the mail. The United States Postal Service is carried in the belly of aircraft. And in fact, actually, I was talking with one of the postal board of governors, believe it or not.
And they said that the price that the post office is having to pay for that air cargo has gone up because they haven't had access to as much of they call it, beli mail in the passenger aircraft because the flights have been cut back so much in this situation. And we already know there's a stress and strain on the United States Postal Service. So that's not good either. All of these things work together and there is essential work there. But if we have that financial support so that people are not, so that businesses are able to say, OK, yep, we will.
For people to stay home and call in sick or we will pay for people to solve quarantine. We're going to continue to pay them because we've got the support and individuals don't have to say, no, I'm going to risk going to work because I don't have sick leave. I don't have those kind of protections, OK? And if I don't go to work, I might actually be in fear of losing my job altogether and losing the ability to care for my family.
So I'm going to make some I'm going to take some risks myself. But in this environment, that risk that you're taking yourself is also risking the rest of the nation. So. So we need that payroll support and financial security to be able to make good decisions in a very short period of time. National mask mandate. We're all getting all the same information about what's happening, happening with coronavirus. And then we can get this contained and we can then recover.
Those are our demands. We're all in agreement on that. But that's not what's coming down the pike so far in terms of our government. Right. The negotiations that are going on right now, what's on the table is half of what was on the table before the election. And you recently tweeted, the nurses are exhausted and dying, trying to care for Americans. Tens of millions are being pushed into poverty. Frontline workers can't believe anyone even gives a damn anymore.
Hello, America. When is it time to stop making it work? We have to take seriously a mass labor strike. Yeah, this was very exciting to a lot of years because a lot of leftists have been saying you've got to do a general strike, we've got to do a general strike, but no one seems to really know how that would work or what that would entail.
What did you mean when you tweeted that?
Well, I mean, I was serious about it. I didn't just I didn't just give us a cool thing to say, but I'll be very honest, OK? Yeah, we haven't we haven't been willing to use the word strike in this country. I mean, there are there are labor leaders and there are labor academics who said to me during the government shutdown, are you sure you want to say strike? Isn't that kind of dangerous to say that?
And I was like, say it, say it strikes strike, you know?
So I have to tell you, I mean, when I tweeted that, it's not like I thought, OK, we are ready to go out on a general strike tomorrow. I did it. But we have to be able to raise this into the conversation. We we have to be able to socialize this idea among workers and among leaders that this is a possibility that we have to take seriously. I mean, I was just thinking last week, if they don't get relief to the American people before they leave town, what am I going to do?
I was saying, would anybody care if I chain myself to the capital and get arrested when anybody care if I chain myself to the capital and get arrested? And while this is being reported, I say that no flights are going to leave D.C. the next day.
I mean, I, I just we have to be able to talk about these things. And so I was very serious when I wrote that tweet. But I'm also going to tell you that it is going to take a lot it I understand it's going to take a lot more discussions. It's going to take a lot more realization that this is actually a power that we have today. This could happen tomorrow if there was suddenly an awareness, if people suddenly understood what the demands are, the demands are people are dying, people are starving.
And you got to get this relief package passed. Now, I'll tell you, it's half of what they were talking about before, but they got to get it passed. They got to get it passed. Right now, it's four months of relief. But if we don't do this, we're going to fall so far off the cliff. And the truth is that people are more likely to fight if they have a little bit of something to fight with.
That's that's just the truth. OK, you can either push people. So far, they've got nothing left to lose. But I'll tell you, it takes a long time to get to that place. So if we really want to fight forward, we got to lock in whatever we can now. And right now, we're talking about four months of emergency relief to make sure that Americans don't fall off the cliff, to make sure that people don't fall out of their homes, and to make sure that we're getting ready for a different playing field to be able to fight for more.
So I'm one who says we've got to lock this in.
I hear that. And, you know, that's obviously part of the calculation that was made before the election. I think part of the calculation was an unwillingness. And Pelosi said that's outright an unwillingness to allow Trump to take credit for it in a way that might have boosted his electoral chances. But, you know, the counterargument is when we passed Keres, that was an enormous amount of negotiating fodder that was off the table for Democrats and that we should have asked for more in the first instance.
Now we're doing another round. And the argument, the counterargument to what you just said is.
If we can get people through the holidays, the Democrats have less and less negotiating power, particularly if we don't actually win these Senate seats. Right. And that people have obviously been struggling a great deal for a long time. There was a crisis that existed before the pandemic. It's been exacerbated the in the eviction moratoriums and relief, et cetera, is going to put an even sharper point on this in the coming months and that there might not be a better time.
And to boost Riley's point, there have been a lot of these spontaneous strikes happening in the country, one thousand one hundred and fifty eight since March schoolteacher's over hazard pay and all these kind of things. You know, what about the argument that this is the moment that people that we need to really extract what we need in a meaningful way?
Yeah. So first and foremost, the problem is, is that we were starting from an assessment of how is this politically going to play out? And that's why the elections are close, because people can't tell who's fighting for them. And some people like, why would you even participate in a system like that? So if the question is who's going to get the credit or who's going to get the most blame we've lost before we started, do the fucking right thing.
I'm sorry, but what? That's it. That's it. And if you do, people are going to follow you. You don't do a political assessment about who's going to get credit here. People are hurting. People are dying. People are not making enough money. We had a wage crisis and a jobs crisis in this country before we even started. This is only opened it up to the problems that exist. Pick your issue because there is plenty of them to fight on.
And I am I'll have to tell you that anyone who talks to me about whether or not it was a political assessment to do a relief bill, better keep walking. Because that means you're not doing your job, you're there to take care of the people, you're there to take care of the general welfare of this nation. This is the problem. This is the problem because we have led ourselves to believe that it is either the evil or the lesser of the evil.
And that is not the question. The question is what is going to do the most good? So a political assessment about whether or not I mean, I get it. We had to get Trump out of office. We did. I mean, this was this was like like an existential threat. And I don't want to minimize that. I do not want to minimize that. OK, but we are in the middle of the biggest crisis in one hundred years in this country.
And in March in March, it was such a shock to this nation that the politics were such that we had a bipartisan deal now. Yeah, sure. The deal was tilted more for corporations in the most part, other than the package that I was talking about, right where the unions designed it. It was tilted more for the corporations, but it was over. It was two point two trillion dollars that was agreed upon. And I want to take you through the process here on the House.
Normally does the spending bills. The House didn't have a bill. Mitch McConnell took control of the process and announced on Friday, I think it was March 20th that he had a bill for a trillion dollars that was going to be all about liability waivers and it was going to be all about giveaways to corporations and that the Democrats in the Senate grew a spine. And on Sunday, I remember getting the call from Senator Markey and he was giddy. He was giggling.
He said, Sarah, you're going to be so proud of the Democrats. We decided to stand together and we said, no.
And I'm like, great, that's fantastic. And you know what?
That started a real negotiations. And in thirty six hours time, thirty six hours later, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer were going to the Senate floor and saying, we have a bipartisan agreement. Thirty six hours later because the Democrats and they stood together and our airline provision, the union provision was still not agreed to. It wasn't agreed to until eight o'clock in the morning, seven hours later. So we were still fighting it out through the night. But, you know, that is the kind of power that you have when you stand together and you say no and you put clear demands on the table.
And yeah, it wasn't perfect. It was one point two trillion dollars better than what it had been thirty six hours earlier and helped a hell of a lot more people included. The six hundred dollar plus up included the checks. Right. That helped a lot of people and that that was voted on twenty four hours later in the Senate. Thirty six hours later in the House and was signed six hours later by the President. Within five days that changed because people decided to have a backbone and there were real demands coming from the American people that can have.
I want people to take that in and remember that and understand that that was the shock of coronavirus and the whole country going, holy shit. Right. And everyone paying attention, everyone focusing in. Imagine if the labor movement were just doing that now, we would have this two point two trillion dollars or we would have these three trillion dollars on the table well before now in Americans hands if we had that kind of focus.
So that's that's the question, though. The question is, since the problem is even more acute now, why is it that someone like Bernie Sanders is on TV the last few days talking about how, you know, this this deal is inadequate? We should be asking for more in the pushback I'm hearing is more at least as much from other Democrats than from Republicans. There does seem to be a world in which it's taken. It seems like it's being taken as a fait accompli, that this is the best we can get, even though we know that a month ago something better was on the table that we could use.
The fact that Republicans put more on the table a month ago as leverage and that if Democrats rally the way you describe them rallying and march, they could conceivably actually get what is necessary to deliver us from the mess that we're in. I'll tell you why it's not working.
I'll tell you why it's not working. And it's because there are very few people saying that we can even get a deal done right now. There is not the full weight of the Democratic Party or the American public or the labor movement saying that we can get a deal done now.
And that is the American public is it isn't the American public. If you want to rely on polls, at least the American public seems to know what it wants. The American public wants recurring monthly checks. The American public wants a bailout.
The American public, the American public wants Medicare for all it will. Absolutely.
A sister preaching to the choir. But it's it's it's the fact that they're in I don't want to be and I'm not trying to be oppositional or unkind, but it.
Seems to be a lack of cohesion within the Democratic Party, where there are very few people willing to stick their necks out. Obviously, we know the progressives, we know the squad. We know the economy is in the reseated to libs in the 80s. And the Bernie Sanders and the Poconos and Markis are demanding more. There is a loud and meaningful minority, but there is also, you know, at the first sign of any agitation from these folks, a lot of people who are saying, no, no, no, that's irresponsible.
Bernie Sanders is always asking for too much. The left is being unrealistic and shooting down the prospects and teaching the American public that they shouldn't demand more, that they teaching the American public they shouldn't trust their gut and that they should lower their expectations.
Well. I've been here, we've been having relief now, events AFP has, we've been out at offices, we've been out at Republican offices, we've been out at Democratic offices. I don't see other people out there demanding a deal. I haven't seen it. I'm on the hill. I'm out all across the country. There has been no demand. And now that all of a sudden something's on the table, it's real convenient for progressives to say we should have more.
I haven't seen it. So I think we need to get this emergency relief done and then we need to regroup and we need to fight for more because these demands were not put on the table by progressives until now.
So what about the the version of the bill that existed, the shield to live? I'm sorry, I'm not forgetting. Many months out there was the version that included student debt relief and a bunch of other stuff that got cut and cares. Has it been that the progressives haven't put forward another version of that or an alternative deal? You're saying that there has been no traction, no call for a deal.
People have said behind the scenes, oh, it's not going to happen. It's not politically going to happen. It's not possible. That's what I've been hearing for the last four months. And so it requires this is how you get stuff done, OK? You define the problem. You talk with you help socialize that right. You talk with people, you get Buy-In, you help the people, the whole constituency understand what the problem is. And you ask them, what do you think about that?
Shape your demands. Right. And then you bring the urgency to it and then you say what you're willing to do to get it. And I'm just going to tell you that there was very little work done on defining the problem or shaping the demands. There was zero work done on urgency. I didn't see anyone talking about the urgency of this. And what were people willing to do to get this done? I've only seen people talk about maybe what else we should be doing now that we're finally talking about getting something done, because behind the scenes, all the conversations I had across the board, Republicans, Democrats, progressives, is that it's not politically possible.
I am sick and tired of what is politically possible. But this is why I'm going to tell you past the nine hundred and eight billion dollars and don't come to me now in the eleventh hour with what you think it should be. That sounds like a nice press release. OK, where were you when we were saying people are losing their jobs and losing their health care? You were nowhere to be seen. So don't come crying to me now, OK?
If you want to if you want to reinforce your base, then get them some help and help them understand that you are fighting. You're the one who's going to fight for them. And then we can come back stronger and fight for what we really deserve.
Who is it who is involved in drafting the bill in the first instance but isn't put pushing for more? That isn't including some of these big ticket items like the twelve hundred dollar check was not invented yesterday. We've been talking about this for almost a year now, you know.
So the fact is that Democrats put a package on the table.
They passed it in the House and in May, let's give that credit that happens.
Those Reitman's in in a normal world that should have started the negotiations. If we're going to just recognize that, yes, this is a political process. And in order to get to an agreement, there is going to be a given and take. OK, there is there should have started and negotiations. Mitch McConnell outsourced his power to the president. Nobody called him out on it. This was going on this very abnormal thing where you'd get the update every day about Pelosi in the news and talk to each other for forty three minutes.
And the sky was blue and then it ended. Right. And and every day it was like the repeat text. We're not calling out the fact that the process is not even working the way it's supposed to. So Trump was a bulletproof vest for Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republican Party. And we were not calling him out on that, on the fact that he's not even doing his patriotic duty to the country to do his job.
And when you say we, who do you mean? Do you think that Democrats should have been leadership should have been more vocal?
The media I mean, the royal way. I mean I mean that I think that probably Democrats could have done a better job with that. When I say we, I, I really mean the labor movement could have done a better job of that, calling this out.
Things were not working the way that it was supposed to. And we had an election coming up and there were a lot of distractions.
And was there pressure on labor leaders to not call out the Democratic Party because it's an election?
I don't know. I mean, I didn't feel the pressure. I certainly. I certainly felt the the absolute necessity of getting Trump out of office, so I don't want to understate that. But no, I mean, I was worried about my people. And I also know that when you fight for people, they will see that and they will come with you. Now, not everybody's going to see it, but the vast majority of people are going to see, hey, that's the person or that's that's the party that's fighting for them.
Right. I've had lawmakers say to me, Sarah, you know, we're the most progressive Congress that there's ever been. We've passed more progressive bills than anyone ever. Why aren't we getting credit with the American people? And I say because they can't put those bills in their wallets. Yeah, so I get it. That's great. And and we should recognize that the Democrats kept doing the thing that they're supposed to do to start the process. So I don't want to take that away from them.
They absolutely did that. Mitch McConnell didn't engage. We didn't call him out on the job. He's not doing. The vast majority of Americans don't understand how our government works. We don't talk to them about that. We don't call out these problems. And we also do things like let's just keep tweeting hashtag heroes, act over and over and help people understand that when we talk about state and local budgets, what we're talking about is whether or not your garbage is going to get picked up.
I mean, talk to people in terms of what's going to matter to them. Are you that far removed from the daily life of America and that of Americans that you can't put these bills in terms that people can understand? So this is our problem is that we're not fighting for people. We're making political assessments. We're removed from what's happening. And even the people who come to Congress who are here to fight and are here to raise the voices of people and get beaten down very quickly, fall very quickly into the reality of what's politically possible.
And they're not wrong and they're not wrong. If we only think about what's politically possible in terms of who is elected to office, nothing is ever going to change. But if we think about how you move politics, there was a GOP senator who refused to sign on to our provision to extend the requirements for airlines to keep us employed.
OK, we we sent twenty five flight attendants to go protest outside his office. And the next day he said, How quickly can I sign on to something? I mean, you like.
Sometimes it takes twenty five flight attendants outside the senator's office and all the news channels coming to cover it, local news channels coming to cover it before an election. That makes the difference. Sometimes it's millions of people marching in the streets. Sometimes it's making it very clear that none of the flights are going to take off unless you pay the government workers.
And so it just is the same formula every time. Define the problem, define your demands, add the urgency and what you're going to do about it. And that's what's going to change the process. And if we think that if we think that it's is going to solve it for us, you know what it does for us. She gets all kinds of people engaged in the government process who have who otherwise would not be thinking about it at all. I love her, but she's not going to change the makeup of Congress.
She's not going to change the vote in the House of Representatives unless we use that and turn that into real political power to move the other votes. Right.
So let me ask you this then, because I think of this podcast, rightly or wrongly, as kind of a branch of my comms responsibilities. I think of this is what we're doing is just for the left. Now, there are a lot of people who listen to this who are online to the extent that that's where the the public forum is these days because of quarantine, who are embedded in their communities across the country, who want to know what's the version of them being one of those twenty five flight attendants?
What are the messages they should be drilling down on? What is the demand to your point about articulating the demand and drilling down on it that they should be articulating so that once this next round of, let's say, the next round of negotiations passes, we have better odds of extracting more the next go around?
Yeah, I mean, it's really important that they talk with people that they work with and and coronaviruses a strange time because they may or may not be in the same space as those people. Right. But I'll tell you the other thing. We're 80 percent organized in the airline industry. But the other thing that made the real difference is that we forced the CEOs to come to our position. And so. We actually operated in a unified way, not not all of them, not all of them did it because they they have kindness in their heart.
Let me just say, I mean, some some are more prone to the human arguments than others say, but they were all moved by the fact that they were really kind of forced to come to that position.
So when we work to extend this, they were not with us. This is what people don't know either. This is not CEOs going to Congress and saying, hey, give us an extension of this. This is the unions doing this and then forcing the CEOs to have to face the workers and explain why they wouldn't come to that position. So if you're organizing in your workplace, you're not only you're not only organizing your power in that workplace, but you're also forcing your employer to have to engage in the political process.
And there's power in that, too. So I can't say enough. Yeah, it's important to organize together and define your demands and go out and protest. Like I said, at this member of Congress is obvious. But the power in that was also that we could say to that member of Congress, by the way, you're going to need to also respond to our employer, United Airlines and American Airlines. And because we're making them respond to us, I just cannot underestimate the power of organizing and workers organizing and people starting to think about the power that they have in their workplace to change their political experience, to change the outcome, their social experience.
Right. It all starts with understanding the importance of union organizing and organizing in your workspace and organizing with people that you have this common interest with, because this is where you get your paycheck. So there a there's a real serious common interest there. Like you might not look the same and you might not have the same background and you might not be registered with the same party. There's power in that, too. There are people right now who will tell you that there's no way that they're going to vote the way I tell them to vote.
But if they decide to come out to an event and also call their members and ask them to do what they ask you to do, they're going to do it every time because they understand that we're united in a common purpose on bettering our lives in that way. And so this is where we can we can start to build that that kind of consensus and power. And the truth is that Bernie Sanders would have been the best president of all time and he'd be the greatest labor secretary that we could possibly have right now.
I mean, I just was thinking about this the other day, how amazing that would be. Can you imagine him out there on every picket line and promoting this? And I get, like, so giddy about it when I think about it.
But but we're not going to get these things unless we build the real kind of consensus around these demands. Right. And so we can't just share the good word. We have to build support for the good word. And we're not going to do that by just talking to ourselves. And so in our workplaces is the best place where we're going to find people who might disagree with us today. And we can start to talk with them around common interests at work that then spill over into common interests in the political arena.
Something very interesting about the pandemic is it's made explicit the nature of capitalist relations. Right. Let me think of that term essential worker like it's right there. We need workers to have a civilization with not the owners.
We need the workers. But labor seems to be on the back foot. Bernie Sanders, as you said, would have been the most pro labor president in the country's history, lost the primaries.
Prop twenty two. Yeah, maybe those dangerous anti worker legislation in recent memory passed in California. And we're going to see that push nationwide.
And this is all happening again with the backdrop of a pandemic, which is demands radical reorientation of our society. And this is going to be the first of many crises that we're living through and increasing demands for alternatives to capitalism, particularly among people our age, people younger. So where can American labor go from here? How can we get from the 10 percent to the 40 percent?
Yeah, OK. So, I mean, we've got to have real leadership, OK? And we've got to be focused on this. And I'm super excited because I get to I get to lead this amazing union of flight attendants who in normal times fly to every corner of the earth. Right. And we can spread the good word about labor. We also aviation happens to touch almost everything. So we get to be engaged in all this. But we need we need real.
Focused effort to have, like I said, clear demands, so take, for example, the issue of pensions. The vast majority of people in this country can't even understand what pension is because they've they've become almost so obsolete. But there are union members who gave up raises, gave up other things, and bargaining went out on strike. Their families sacrificed in order to get these pensions in order to have a secure retirement. And so taking those pensions away is like stealing from these people.
And yet these pension plans are in trouble because they've been poorly invested, because they haven't been funded the way that they need to be, because corporations have fought for laws that have allowed them to put money in other places anyway. This has to be fixed. And if we don't fix this, then we're not then the base of union membership that we have today, just 13 million workers in the AFL-CIO alone. If we're not fixing these pensions and shoring up and making sure that people are getting the minimum of what they were promised, then what kind of story are those union members going to tell to the hundreds of millions of other people that we have to organize?
So we need labor focusing in on what are the priorities that we need to fix right now to shore up our base? What do we need to do to help spread the message of solidarity and make sure that we don't have union members thinking that health care for all, for example, is a potential attack on their own health care? We got to we got to really have an organized leadership in the labor movement helping us understand how we're going to exercise the power that we have today.
Because if you take those 13 million workers who are members in unions that are affiliated with the AFL-CIO and those 13 million workers understand the value of having a union contract and a union card, we can organize in the millions if we organize at a rate of the airline industry. Over one hundred million people would be organized today. And imagine the kind of political power you have there. So there needs to be absolutely there needs to be some focused leadership on what are the issues that matter to union members today?
How are we going to solve those issues and tell the story to the rest of America about why it matters to be union members and engage those people in all their communities and all their families and doing that organizing because we're never going to be able to get the laws on our side fast enough. We're not going to have the political clout to pass the pro act and remove all these hurdles to organizing. It's a chicken and egg thing right now. So the only way we're going to change this is if we actually supercharge the union members who are there today to tell the good story with their friends and neighbors about this and tell them how they can join.
And then we're going to have to promote the idea of a strike because there are workers who have been defined out of having the right to bargain and have representation. And we've got a strike for recognition, just like they did one hundred years ago. But you can only do that if you've got a labor movement that's full of union members who understand the value of what they have. And we don't have that today. It's it's something that can change relatively quickly.
And coming out of coronavirus, like you're saying, laid bare all the problems with the way that work has been defined and workers have been disrespected and mistreated and even sent off to work to die. I mean, what what could be more stark and compelling right now and why workers have to come together to organize, but they're only going to do that if they feel like they've got something inspiring to go to. And right now, we're not solving the problems that working people care about.
And we've got to get about the business of doing that so that people can tell the stories about why there is value in coming together and having a union card.
How will organized labor navigate the increasing atomization of labor, talking about the gig economy, talking about entire business models based on levels of exploitation that we're looking at, gilded era type exploitation?
Well, I mean, first of all, we have to do what I was just describing, right?
I mean, are you going to have a basic understanding of why there's there's value in having a union? Because in those situations, you're going to have to believe that you can put it on the line just for the right to have a union that that that's what formed the United Mine Workers that became the biggest union in America and ultimately spawned all the other unions that are in the labor movement, right?
Yes, incredibly radical. And took on the US government. I mean, the US government came in with the militia to. Gun them down and chase them into the hills and all over the country, and they fought back and fought for good middle class jobs, and then we we want to say that we're going to solve the climate issues by taking on the miners know we need to take on the the coal companies that exploited the workers and stand with the workers and help them understand this is about making sure you're no longer exploited in your land, is no longer destroyed and your water is drinkable and and in in the same time, it's not going to be at the expense of your job and your pension.
And so, OK, so we have to do all of that. But we have to get back to that place of understanding the value of having that union membership and how that is the only way that workers are going to have an ability to fight back against a Jeff Bezos who seems to have all the money and all the control in the world. Right. And if if people don't understand the value of having that union card, then they're not going to strike for the right to have that union membership that will hold Jeff Bezos accountable.
And even the guy with all the control and all the money in the world will have to come to the table and answer to his workers if they have that union recognition. So that is necessary. And then beyond that, we have to understand that this is a worldwide economy. This is not just our country. So this idea that we can be pitted against people who are undocumented working in this country, guess what? You're not you're not at war with the people who came here to work your war with the people who are still in the countries that they came from, who are being so exploited that it's so awful that they came looking for something better.
That's what you're competing with. Is these conditions for workers around the world that are so low that, again, back like the mine workers, the donkey was more valuable than the human being who went into the mine?
Right now, you have people on the right talking disingenuously, I would say, about economic nationalism, offering this fraudulent idea of solidarity. And you have a Democratic Party which is primarily let's be real here, dominated by neoliberal interests in pursuing this course of economic policy that is bad for workers, that's bad for our civilization. Frankly, it's not going to be able to meet the monumental challenges that are currently facing us.
How do we orient ourselves to to present a cohesive, coherent. Program to people to to to combat this right wing, these right wing ideas.
Yeah, I think we have to be really careful about about labels because, you know, which side are you on? Is are you someone who is trying to exploit people for your own advantage or are you someone who creates the value with your work? And there's a hell of a lot more people who create the value with their work than the people who exploit that labor and make the most out of it. I think that in an attempt to call out what's wrong, we've put labels on things in order to be able to define the problem and try to push through it.
And so I recognize that. But it's being used against us and it's being used to keep working people and different communities and different backgrounds from talking with each other and finding common ground. I think that we've got to be about the business of do you work? If you work, you're on my side. And that's solidarity. And if you don't work, if you sit behind a desk and you figure out where other people are going to work, that's the other side and we've got to find it.
I think Virgil's worried about the crap, if I'm wrong, Virgil, the fact that the idea that there are Tucker Carlson's in the world who are in a lot of ways leaning more into the labor rhetoric, even if it's empty, then certain members of our own party and there's a fear that they might own it.
As they figured out, they figured out that, like the Democrats abandoned that and don't understand it. And so they're picking it up. I mean, Trump does it more than anybody else look like Stephanie Chilterns book. I mean, here's the truth, right? The deficit myth. This is this this is another way to divide people, to have people believe that if someone gets a leg up, it means someone else is going to suffer because there's only so much.
Right. It's not true. It's not true. And Trump has said no president has ever not gotten elected for giving too much to people. Right. OK, OK.
So like I in the absence of leadership and a cohesive message from a party that's supposed to be about the people, others are going to pick up that rhetoric and use it to their advantage.
And that's what that's what we're leaving the field open for in the absence of a labor movement in this country. That's what's going on.
The absence of a living, moving, organizing labor movement, because I'm not going to put this on politicians. This is about this is about us. This is about working people and whether or not we're going to claim our power. And right now we're outsourcing that to God. Oh, my God.
So like the frozen food air, Little Lord Fauntleroy, you're talking about roasting what I wear.
Look at this.
This is not the job of the Democrats. OK, the Democrats are going to match the labor rhetoric when labor exercises our power.
So I know that you want to put this all on politicians, but I do. A lot of people listening and you've heard this before, are going to ask when are you running there?
I have one that I actually have two very quick questions. Sure. One is card check. Let's say the Democrats win both the Senate seats, 50 seats in the Senate, bare minimum majority is card check on the agenda in twenty twenty one. OK, should it be and is it are two different things, is it is the question? No. Hmm. And you say that because why? Because you don't have confidence that it's a priority of the Biden campaign, you don't think that there's votes for it.
No one understands it nor understands the value of it. It goes back to what I was talking about before. People have to understand the value of having an card. And if the American public doesn't understand that, they're certainly not going to vote for it and politicians are not going to put it in place unless it's going to generate votes for them in the next election. So let's be real. It's it's got to start with Labor doing our job about helping people understand the value of having that union card.
And we can help with that as well. I remember during the campaign do I purposefully wanted to do a labor video. You know, we're producing all of these videos for all the different issues and policies that are coming out. And no one really wanted to touch the labor video because it was so opaque and I didn't really want to do it either.
But I had to understand these policies as part of my job. And when I did, I was like, oh, this is actually the most radical part of Bernie's entire region.
And no one wants to, for that matter, credit where credit where credit's due. And I remember I did this video, it was like difficult trying to cram all this stuff into like four minutes and then, like, it was one of the least popular people.
Just it's really hard.
We're going to work on this on this show also to communicate and do some basic union. Yeah, go ahead.
Here's my quick question. This is the follow up to yours. Is Sarah Nelson running for AFL-CIO president in twenty twenty one?
I'm going to answer that question after I get my members jobs back. So I don't think I don't think I have the right to answer that question right now with half of my union out of work. And so just I'm living my own rhetoric. That's that's the reality. So I want to I just wanted to show you something very quickly that a lot of people know this about me, but I've been a union member for the past eight years.
And I'll show you, like a constituent of the AFL-CIO. I have not worked in this profession for a few years and I've not been paying my dues. Do not tell them. But there you have.
You know where you live now, Toto. Don't tell Richard Trumka. Well, I know we've had you for a long time.
And don't worry, we're about to let you go.
I will say, though, if he's going to share his union story, I was once on a plane coming back from a Brime event where you might bring UFW pin and a flight attendant came up to me and it was dark. It was like nighttime. And I, you know, startled me a little by handing me a lanyard. And I was like, what's going on? He points to my pin and points to the lanyard he gave me like like union lamb lamb here.
And we had this little solidarity movement on the plane. Well, this is just the cutest thing.
So that's one special place in my heart. If you ever decide to set your sights, even sights even higher for, you know, political leadership, I think there are a lot of people that would be very excited about it because you're such an amazing communicator and your spirit and your commitment to these issues is really infectious.
So thank you for spending so much time with us here today.
Well, thank you. And let us know how we can support you, OK?
And yeah, no, I appreciate what you're doing too, because we need more voices and we need more people hearing the truth and understanding how they can build power. And so I have loved this conversation and I am happy to have it any time.
Thank you. Thank you again. That's great. We'd love to have you back. Thanks a lot.
If anything to plug. Oh, well, I mean, listen, we got to listen. Here's where we are. We didn't fight for enough. We got to get this relief locked in. You know, people need. That's relief. They're starving right now, OK? And we need it's just like any union contract, you lock in those as much as you can extract as much as you can from the company and you get a leg up to fight for more.
The next time you're stronger, the next time. Hey, it's not everything it should be. It's frickin Mitch McConnell's fault. We're going to call him out on it. And that's the truth. Nobody did that enough. We're going to fight for more in the new year. But in the meantime, we're not going to let people die of poverty and homelessness.
And thank you so much, solidarity. Take care.
Bye bye. Wow. OK. Wow. Joe, have you recovered yet?
I've recovered. Yeah. I'm not kidding.
When I said you turned to be ready to do the video, this will never be released. It's been destroyed.
It's so this was fantastic. It's one of our best.
I keep saying that like this is our best interview yet. Maybe it's true. Maybe we just keep topping our previous interview. It's true.
It's a little unnerving because at some point we're going to go up so high we're going to need flight attendants to help us manage this podcast.
Wonderful. Just wonderful, wonderful use of figurative language there. I'm a writer.
That was great. I'm pumped up. I'm excited for Sarah Nilsson's maybe running for AFLCIO presidency in the twenty twenty one.
But either way, being a fighter for organized labor or collectivism for. Yeah. For the idea that by people getting together and cooperating we can have a better world.
Yeah I will say Bernie always said we need it. We were going to get things passed by a standing in Mitch McConnell's yard and making it really politically inconvenient for him to be such a putz.
And I kept thinking, you know, the thing that she keeps coming back to is the twenty five flight attendants that people agitating at people's legislators offices.
And I think that maybe there's a lesson to take away from this, apart from the substantive organizing lessons. And we're going to do some episodes that I think drill down on what it takes to organize it to help people out. But at the end of the day, maybe we should just really refocus our protests. At the offices of these people, like like make it a more acute, concentrated rallying cry, because I always did wonder why there were so many people in the streets of D.C. over the course of the summer wandering through my neighborhood instead of going to the affluent neighborhood, you know, one over or going to Congress, people's houses.
And I don't mean that obviously in a threatening way like what Republicans are doing right now, like physical violence, but as a form of protest in a public space to make it inconvenient, the same way that AMC made it inconvenient for Pelosi by bringing by rally with the Sunrise movement on her first day in Congress. Right. And so that's, I think, a takeaway that I'm going to really enjoy and encourage people to do that. More kind of pointed organize organizing.
I'm just glad I resisted making diminutive comments about flight attendants during that Virgile interview.
Not the minute about like just like being cute about it, because it's just it's like it's tacky. It's it's like a hacky material. It's like that's the joke. It's like airline food.
Well, I'm like the try to joke. I'm glad you resisted.
Like, I'm better than that. I didn't ask Sarah Nelson why they, you know, don't make the whole plane out of the black box because I feel good.
If I feel I feel good, I feel like a good person. I that's a hard that's a hard freaking job.
Jesus, because you're meeting like everyone there is like having the worst time of their life because air travel sucks. It's the worst freaking thing. So everyone is miserable and you got to deal with people and make sure they don't like go, you know, hijack the plane or something because they're all pissed off.
Well, my aunt this is what I was trying to resist bringing up my my aunt worked for Amtrak for, like all of my childhood.
And I didn't bring it on trains versus planes, you know, and, you know, it's the same deal.
I know that they're good dogs, but we had my sixth birthday on a train. We went from like DC to Pennsylvania and back we had a car all to myself and all this kind of stuff.
Oh, my God, that sounds wonderful. It was it was adorable. And I always loved train travel and always had a lot of respect for the people who work on the trains, because I always think of my Aunt Candy and she tells me, you know, like there was a certain amount of glamour involved there as well.
And she loved to tell the story about one time she serviced Michael Jackson on the plane, like, don't make a joke.
He she Michael Jackson was on the train.
Yeah. And then like, oh, my my hand.
OK, I heard about Michael Jackson on the train in like months later she was on the platform and another train went by and he was on it and he like recognized her and like tipped like waved to her on the platform.
And my mom's family is a big Michael Jackson. They grew up with the Jackson five, and it was a big deal. So I would like to say I just want to shout out for the train takers in the world, but your workers are essential as well.
And all workers are part of this moment that we're in really frankly, makes me wish I were part of it. Like a big organization is that are just here with you where we can't do anything. Yeah.
What do we get to unionize against the other person? We're do. We're going to three unions. We have three bad faith unions.
I will just be at loggerheads.
I was she was like, they might look different than you. They might have different political beliefs.
Oh, I mean, different parties. I was like, is he registered green? Am I?
Anyway, this is this is a testament to people's ability to overcome their differences and collaborate individually.
I think so. Not about does it for this episode. Hey, this is a free episode.
If you want a premium episode, I know a guy you can go to Patriae on Noncoms Bad Faith podcast. You can subscribe to this show for five dollars a month and get amazing content.
Really wonderful stuff. What do we have on last week, Matt Breunig.
Hmm. He was really good. It was excellent. And just before that we had one of our best episodes with Cornel West and Tricia Rose from The Tightrope. That was not a pay old one. That was not appropriate. I would tell you. That's my bad. Yeah. What was the last preview? I don't even remember. I don't you know what? I don't remember the real honestly.
Yes. No, no, do not say that. No, they're great. They're great. And you should subscribe to like our full premium episode library because they're fun. They're fun because we're fun. Yeah. We're Luser kind of like this, which is why we should rap. Yeah.
Patriot Slash Bad Pay podcast until next time.
Solidarity forever and keep the thing. My daddy was a minor. Son, he'll be with you fellow workers until this battle is one side on. Oh, workers, can you stand up, tell? Hair, will you be a lousy scab or will you be?