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Union Leaders Testify Before Congress; Sen. Markwayne Mullin Challenges Teamsters Head to Fight

HeadlineNov 15, 2023

Senator Bernie Sanders held a hearing Tuesday to call for the strengthening of union protections amid a wave of labor victories and persistent inequality in the U.S. Sanders urged Congress to pass the PRO Act, which he reintroduced earlier this year.
United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain, fresh off his union’s successful strike against the “Big Three,” called on Congress to “step up” for the working class.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, testified on the importance of a living wage for all airline and airport workers.

Sara Nelson: “You have workers who can’t make a living wage and are actually sleeping in the gate areas because they are working around the clock, shifts around the clock, and sometimes different jobs at that airport. That makes all of us less safe. They also cannot live near those airports because they are usually in major metropolitan areas, and they’re having to take transportation sometimes three hours back and forth, so they don’t even have time to go home between those shifts. So we’ve got to raise the standard for all of the workers. It’s about safety. It’s about security. And it’s about basic dignity at work.”

But Republican Senator Markwayne Mullin delivered the hearing’s most stunning moment, when he revived an ongoing feud with Teamsters President Sean O’Brien, challenging him to a physical fight.

Sen. Markwayne Mullin: “This is a time. This is a place. If you want to run your mouth, we can be two consenting adults. We can finish it here.”

Sean O’Brien: “OK, that’s fine. Perfect.”

Sen. Markwayne Mullin: “You want to do it now?”

Sean O’Brien: “I’d love to do it right now.”

Sen. Markwayne Mullin: “Well, stand your butt up then.”

Sean O’Brien: “You stand your butt up, big guy.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Oh, hold up. No. Stop it. All right, hold it.”

Sean O’Brien: “Is that your solution to every problem?”

Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Oh no, sit down. Sit down.”

Sean O’Brien: “That’s why you’re a clown. Look at you.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders: “No, no, you’re a United States senator.”

After ordering Mullin to sit down, Senator Sanders added, “God knows the American people have enough contempt for Congress. Let’s not make it worse.”

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