Senator Joe Manchin has persistently, indeed defiantly, ignored polls showing broad support from West Virginians for the provisions in President Biden’s Build Back Better legislative agenda.
Notwithstanding this poll, Manchin continued to pretend he was fulfilling his role in our representative democracy by serving the interests of his people, when in reality he was openly shedding this senatorial responsibility. In fact, he continues to attribute his unwillingness and inability to support Biden’s Build Back Better Act to West Virginia voters for insisting that it doesn’t make sense – that he can’t justify it.
He said last Sunday:
“I’ve always said, ‘If I can’t go home and explain, I can’t vote for it.’ Despite my best efforts, I cannot explain the far-reaching Build Back Better Act in West Virginia, and I cannot vote to move this mammoth bill forward. “
The West Virginians themselves are now speaking out and challenging Manchin’s perfidy, exposing the bad faith of his rhetoric and presumably making his position on Build Back Better increasingly untenable.
An important constituency in West Virginia, the miners, has pleaded with Manchin to fulfill his role as West Virginia senator and to actually defend their interests.
The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) on Monday urged Manchin to reconsider its rejection of the plan, highlighting the inclusion of two key provisions in the bill.
One of the provisions expands a fund to help coal miners suffering from black lung disease. The other part of implementing a just transition to clean energy to fight climate change is creating tax incentives to encourage companies to build factories and factories on coalfields to hire laid-off miners.
UMWA President Cecil Roberts said in his statement:
“For these and other reasons, we are disappointed that the law will not be passed. We urge Senator Manchin to reconsider his opposition to this law and to work with his colleagues to pass something that will help keep the miners going and have a meaningful impact on our members, their families and their communities has.”
Roberts also pointed to another provision in the bill that penalizes companies that deny workers the right and opportunity to unionize.
Few Americans are likely to know or appreciate its importance, but it does point out the broad and transformative content of the Build Back Better Act that Americans need to be better informed about.
Roberts highlighted this support for workers’ rights and democracy in the workplace as a crucial piece of legislation:
“This language is critical to any long-term ability to restore the right to organize in America in the face of increasing union disruption by employers. But now there is no longer any way for millions of workers to exercise their rights in the workplace. “
It seems that while Manchin doesn’t think he can explain the Build Back Better Act to the West Virginians, some of his key constituents, like the coal miners, can safely explain it to him.
According to Roberts, when Manchin returns home, it appears that he has to listen more than explain.
And we’ll see if he wants to represent the interests of his people.
Tim Libretti is a professor of American literature and culture at a Chicago state university. As a longtime progressive voice, he has published many scholarly and journalistic articles on culture, class, race, gender and politics, for which he has received awards from the Working Class Studies Association, the International Labor Communications Association, the National Federation of. received Press Women and the Illinois Woman’s Press Association.