House votes to block railroad strike, give workers 7 extra paid sick days- National & International News – WED 30Nov2022

The House voted today to impose a contract on railroad workers to head off a strike. In a separate bill, they also voted to give rail workers an extra 7 days paid sick leave.

 

 

House votes to block rail strike, give workers 7 extra paid sick days. Survivor of Virginia Walmart shooting sues company for $50 million. Oath Keepers guilty of sedition. US OKs Chevron to pump Venezuelan oil.

 

 

 

NATIONAL NEWS

House votes to block railroad strike, give workers 7 extra paid sick days

After urging from President Biden, the House of Representatives voted today to impose a previously negotiated contract on railroad workers’ unions to head off a possible strike on Dec. 9. Such a strike would cost the economy about $2 billion per day and halt the transport of food and vital materials like gas and fertilizer. 

In a separate vote, the House also approved a bill giving railroad workers an extra 7 paid sick days a year. The current contract proposal only calls for one. While the vote to impose the contract received significant bipartisan support, only three Republicans voted in favor of the extra sick leave.

The Senate will now have to vote on both bills. The vote to block the strike is likely to pass as is, but the fate of the bill adding sick leave is less certain.

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Survivor of Virginia Walmart shooting sues company for $50 million

Donya Prioleau, an employee at the Walmart in Chesapeake, VA, where a deadly mass shooting took place last week, is suing Walmart for $50 million. Prioleau was present in the breakroom when the nighttime shift leader Andre Bing opened fire, killing several employees. According to the suit, Prioleau narrowly escaped being killed herself.

The filing indicates that Prioleau believes Walmart bears some responsibility for the shooting. The suit alleges that the company continued to employ Bing despite being aware of numerous troubling complaints from Prioleau and other employees against him. Other employees have spoken publicly about Bing’s bizarre, inappropriate and threatening behavior prior to the shooting. For example, Bing had a reputation for writing people up just because he could and making inappropriate or “creepy” comments. Generally, they’ve said Bing was a manager “to watch out for”.

The lawsuit also notes that Bing “had a personal vendetta against several Walmart employees and kept a ‘kill list’ of potential targets prior to the shooting”.

“Prior to the shooting,” the suit states, “Mr. Bing repeatedly asked coworkers if they had received their active shooter training. When coworkers responded that they had, Mr. Bing just smiled and walked away without saying anything”.

Bing also “made comments to other Walmart employees and managers suggesting that he would be violent if fired or disciplined”. Apparently, Bing “was disciplined leading up to the shooting, making his violent outburst predictable”.

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Jury finds Oath Keepers’ leaders guilty of sedition over Jan. 6 

Yesterday, a federal jury found two leading figures of the Oath Keepers militia guilty of sedition for their roles in the Jan. 6 uprising.  Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and the leader of the group’s Florida chapter Kelly Meggs were each found guilty of sedition. Three other members on trial were found not guilty of sedition. All five of the members on trial were found guilty of obstructing an official proceeding and various other charges. 

Attorneys for Rhodes argued during the trial that Rhodes could not be guilty of sedition as the Justice Department hadn’t proven that Rhodes intended to lead the mob into the Capitol building. Rhodes himself apparently never entered the building that day, and claimed only to have learned his members had stormed the building after the fact.

But recordings of Rhodes speaking and texts sent both before and after Jan. 6 convinced the jury of Rhodes’ seditious intent and of his role in inciting the violence. In one clip, Rhodes said his members should be prepared for a violent civil war. In another statement from Jan. 10, Rhodes said his only regret about Jan. 6 was that his group hadn’t brought rifles they had waiting in a hotel in Virginia.

Rhodes’ attorneys say they intend to appeal the verdict.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

US, Venezuela move toward normalized relations with oil deal

Venezuela’s government and opposition parties have come together to strike a deal to ease some US sanctions. Under the agreement, the US would allow Chevron to resume pumping oil in Venezuela for the first time in years. Supposedly, Chevron will not be paying any oil royalties to the government of Nicolas Maduro, whom the US still officially regards as hostile. However, it seems unlikely Maduro is getting nothing in return.

During the Trump administration and even now, the US government has perpetuated a diplomatic fiction that Maduro is not the democratically elected leader of Venezuela. Instead, the US and its allies has welcomed opposition leader Juan Guaido to international functions, declaring him the true leader of Venezuela. Neither Guaido nor his party even attempted to participate in the last round of elections in Venezuela. Instead, they denounced the elections as “rigged” with no evidence.

The agreement will unlock billions of dollars belonging to Venezuela in overseas banks to fund humanitarian needs in the country. The timeline of the agreement isn’t certain, nor is it clear exactly what concessions were made by Maduro’s government. The US has long been pushing for regime change in Venezuela. Unfortunately for the US, the Venezuelans have voted for Maduro, twice. Despite the economic hardships and failings of Maduro’s government, the indigenous majority of Venezuela still prefer him to his largely white, elite opponents.

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