On any given day, take a look at Bernie Sanders’ twitter account, and you’ll likely see him retweeting union accounts. That or connecting a solution to the ills of the day to revived unions. Bernie’s entire political project is one determined to build political consciousness and working-class institutions.
And this is something that sets him apart from other candidates, both in practice and in theory, because Bernie is one of the few people running for president truly interested in building working class solidarity through strengthened unions.
In just one day, Bernie Sanders filled his twitter feed with three such examples.
Bernie took to twitter to support healthcare workers striking in Southern California. Specifically, nurses were negotiating a new contract with Dignity Health, a San Francisco non-profit, who they accused of placing profits over patient safety. The nurses took to the streets over the course of a week filled with multiple day long marches, where they protested staffing cuts and a lack of security. A registered nurse interviewed at the scene said such cuts put people’s lives and livelihoods at risk. Saying, “I was kicked in the head while trying to restrain a violent patient… and security was nowhere around.”
Union spokesperson Terry Carter spoke to reporters at length about the issues this causes. “They’re laying off nurses’ aides, they’re laying off the monitor techs, they’re laying off the orederlies, the housekeeping – they’re cutting, cutting, cutting,” Carter said.
Bernie’s support of this sort of union activity brings attention to workers’ struggles that they might not otherwise receive. And sometimes he even directly calls out employers for malfeasance.
Bernie directly called Maximus_news out on Twitter because according to a union statement, a proposed settlement will result in “182 former employees who joined the lawsuit splitting $80,000 in back wages.” As many employees were routinely unpaid for preliminary work tasks that were not considered “on the clock.” This sort of direct confrontational approach not only builds working class solidarity but it provides a big social media stick for would be abuse from other employers.
There are countless other instances where Bernie Sanders calls attention to small labor fights taking place all around this country. If there is to be a full-throated labor movement that brings union membership back in vogue and bestows on workers all the benefits therein, people like Bernie lending these fights his megaphone is incredibly important in that process. Especially considering Bernie Sanders is running for president and every post on social media comes at a premium, these posts show Bernie’s committed to a working class movement over simply boosting his engagement as much as possible.
Bernie could always pop off with a tweet like the one below, which reaches far more people than his union posts do.
However, Bernie Sanders knows that even while running for president, there are things more important than getting one million people to smash that mother fuckin’ like button.
Things like building working class solidarity and lifting up union organizers in their fights aren’t as sexy as calling Trump an idiot. But as they say in the union business, direct action gets the goods. And calling attention to the people engaged in that direct action is one of the most important things Bernie could possibly use his platform for. So even if it comes at the expense of likes and engagement, it’s all the better in the long run and Bernie knows that.