It’s hardly surprising that it took LaGuardia being shut down for an hour for Trump to completely crumble on the shutdown. Shutting down air travel not only causes widespread outrage, but it affects people Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell actually care about. And you can’t have that. I don’t imaging trying to get Roger Stone out of the headlines hurt either, but it is no coincidence that worker action is what ended the shutdown. Sara Nelson, head of the Association of Flight Attendants, called for a general strike earlier this week. She is not messing around.
— David Shepardson (@davidshepardson) January 25, 2019
On Friday morning, air traffic controllers missed their second paycheck due to the government shutdown. Many called out sick, resulting in delayed flights at some of the nation’s busiest airports, including LaGuardia, Newark, and Hartfield-Jackson in Atlanta. Now, flight attendants may also walk out. Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, told New York on Friday afternoon that she “just finished” recording a video message to members urging them to get to the offices of their congressional representatives until the shutdown is resolved.
“We’re mobilizing immediately,” Nelson said. Asked if this meant that flight attendants will not be going to work, she responded, “Showing up to work for what? If air traffic controllers can’t do their jobs, we can’t do ours.”
First, I think this could really boost worker morale around the country and especially in the public sector, where workers are deeply affected by these government shutdowns. These are hard times for unions, but between the teachers strikes and this activism over the shutdown, there is some real fight coming out of the workforce. And while this ended before workers really had to take it to the next level, the relevant unions involved are going to remember this and act accordingly if there are shutdowns in the future.
Second, I actually wonder if this might not be the last government shutdown, at least for awhile. Now, I get that this depends on the imbecile in the White House and the most cynical man in the Senate since John C. Calhoun and I am not usually accused of optimism. However, this is both a national and international embarrassment. People are sick of it. They were finally beginning to take the kind of direct action that politicians do not like to see targeted against them. I get that no politician wants to undermine their own control over the levers of power, but it’s become a big problem. And it’s not as if the mechanisms that create these shutdowns goes back forever. I believe it is the Antideficiency Act of 1982 that has unleashed this monster. Yes, I know I am shocked that the Reagan legacy still impacts us negatively today…. Anyway, I am probably too optimistic here, but the House should pass a law that would fix this problem and not allow for future shutdowns.
Third, Sara Nelson needs a bigger voice within the labor movement as a whole. She is really good at this in an era where the mainstream labor leaders are not exactly blowing the public away with their passion and charisma. The AFA is only a part of the Communication Workers of America, so this might be unlikely, but still, if the AFL-CIO was smart, they would place her front and center of a lot of things. Big if.