Economics/Class Relations

In East Palestine and Detroit, corporate (and Congress’s) greed leads to catastrophe

Episode 112 with David Sirota

David Sirota joins us to discuss the issue at the front of our minds — the Norfolk Southern train derailments that have created massive health and environmental issues as a result of corporate greed and our government’s refusal to stand with organized labor. In this episode, we dig into the corporate decisions that led to the disasters in East Palestine and (just Thursday morning) Detroit, how they could have been prevented, and the reality that local residents are already facing.

Rail workers knew this would happen — and they told us. But Congress didn’t listen. Now, after legislators prevented a rail strike late last year (as rail workers rallied around issues like paid sick leave), a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio is already wreaking lethal consequences on the local community, and the greed of the railway company, Norfolk Southern — as well as those legislators who stood with railroad bosses to break the strike — is to blame. Eric Gardner reports for More Perfect Union that years of layoffs at the company to minimize cost and maximize shareholder profit resulted in higher profit margins for the company’s top brass and dangerous working conditions for fewer workers.

David Sirota joins us on the show this week to discuss what has become a horrific environmental disaster for East Palestine, Ohio, where residents have reported serious health issues and animals dying from the pollution. Add to that the struggle that those affected by the toxic chemical release will face as they grapple with the United States’ punishingly cost-prohibitive healthcare system for the care that they need. In so many ways, what happened in East Palestine speaks to the government’s profound failure to protect Americans both in the workplace (as in the case of overworked rail workers with no sick leave) and at home. It also shows that the cause of organized labor is capable of confronting and organizing around that failure, and that if the Democratic Party had lived up to its promises to fully stand with labor in December, thousands of people’s lives would be very different right now.

Thanks for joining us for this essential conversation. You can listen to this episode as a podcast when it’s released tomorrow on Spotify, Pandora, Apple Podcasts, and more.

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