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Meet the Militant Flight Attendant Leader Who Threatened a Strike—And Helped Stop Trump's Shutdown


Meet the Militant Flight Attendant Leader Who Threatened a Strike—And Helped Stop Trump's Shutdown

David Dayen

The government shutdown introduced America to an audacious new voice in the labor movement: Sara Nelson. While receiving the MLK Drum Major for Justice Lifetime Achievement Award from the AFL-CIO on January 20, Nelson, the International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, called for a general strike to support the 800,000 federal employees who were locked out or forced to work without pay. “Dr. King said, ‘their destiny is tied up with our destiny,’” Nelson told a cheering crowd of labor leaders.


As Trump tries to show the People just “who is the boss”, the People need to shove back with great resolve. That so many who may themselves be living from paycheck to paycheck are willing to fight is testament both to their resolve and the severity of Trump’s detachment from reality. Trump’s narcissism was apparent long before he ever ran for president. That so many could not or would not see it–or much worse did and did not care–is a damning indictment of the state of the American public. Add in all of those who eschewed voting if for no other reason than to champion the lesser evil and you find 45 to be a number that will live in infamy.


As I have long advocated, We the People, have the numbers and the power.

Sara Nelson has shown us all, this is so.

When the time to exercise that power comes, do not hesitate, do not be late, show up ready and willing to stamp out Hate.


Dayen sez:
“Nelson, who took over leadership of the AFA in 2014, broke an unwritten rule by expressing the logical endpoint of the power workers hold in their hands.”

Sounds like a lame rule. Wonder who didn’t write it.


In celebration of the 1919 Seattle General Strike centennial this past week, lets just make it a general strike when the next Trumpdown hits.


Nothing gets the attention of the rich more than losing the ability to travel by air.
Sock it to 'em.


Our own apathy is our worst enemy.


Another Trumpdown would be further disaster for him in the troglodyte polls. My guess is that the threat is just empty blowhard posturing like all the rest of his actions. In any event there must be many hoping he makes good on his threat if only for the damage it does to him.


The general strike should be started in the Washington, D.C. area and then rolled out and spread up and down the coastal region. The economic impact and the disruption of all transportation sectors would cripple this vapid Washington Consensus Myth that we’re all here just " to comfort the comfortable ". To serve their whims and know our place. Far from it, actually.
The opposite reason for striking is true, of course. The basis for a general strike is to make the PTB; and their lackeys in the power centers very, very uncomfortable, actually. Even taking a cab or mass transit, dining out or attending a catered gala should cause the bosses to wonder if not hiring a food taster or a bigger security detail for the evening, was a bad idea.
" The difference between the gov’ts of Europe and the U.S. gov’t is that the politicians in Europe fear the people, whereas, in the U.S. the people fear the gov’t and the politicians. " Something like that, anyway.
It’s a history lesson Sara Nelson told a convention hall of supposed rough, tough union leaders who are too often over-comforted, themselves. Too bad it wasn’t held outside where her supporters could of worn pink hats, as well.


Great article! This woman is a hero among the working class. She is showing us just what kind of power we can potentially have! Bravo Sara Nelson! The best of luck with this situation.


Walkouts as a tactic, general strikes, what I want to know is, where was organized labor during the shutdown?–I have espoused general strikes in cities or regions visited by Trump as a tactic of resistance, so that anywhere he goes, everything shuts down–Labor has been marginalized by the rightward swing of our politics since the Reagan era, but still has a leading role to play, especially public unions!


I’m going to keep my powder dry until Friday.


It’s long past time for the people to fight back, for the workers to fight back - everywhere. Like one activist recently remarked, you don’t show up to a knife fight "with a banana and a shirt that says ‘I am so frightened’ on the front. People need to awaken from their slumber, stand up and fight for their rights. We have SO much more power than we realize, and this is something the powers that be desperately wish to keep us from realizing. The consequences of “playing it safe” and submitting to the corruption of power are totally deadly. Hey, I don’t have any kids, but if I did, I don’t think I’d be opting for “playing it safe” at this point.





“This government created crisis” was actually created by Trump caving to pressure from Rush Limbaugh and the FOX (faux noise) syndicate resulting in Trump refusing to sign a bipartisan agreement sent to him from Congress.


Ms. Nelson: Bravo!! Great to see flight attendants in the forefront of the labor movement. More power to them!

Please keep fighting for the rights of workers, Ms. Nelson. I hope that your colleagues read this and support you & your struggle for workers’ rights. You are a wonderful model for them.

Workers need to understand the importance of belonging to a union. There is strength in solidarity. Without a strong union, workers would not earn a living wage, have health benefits, and a retirement income.

Do not forget that 140 years ago, workers fought and died for the rights and benefits that workers have today. For details, visit the Haymarket massacre in Chicago.

And for those United Airlines workers in Chicago, take a trip to Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park, Il, to see the graves of some of those workers hung by the City of Chicago for agitating for the eight hour workday.


Innocently refrain from comment. Powder dry.
Is there another?
Friday is gov. shut down day, or not.




I think it’s about time we had a real general strike. Everyone, EVERYWHERE out of work if the government shuts down. We can show Trump who’s in charge, and we don’t need to be in a union to do it. Just call in sick. Everyone has sick days.


I reckon it’s time for a real general strike - union or not. The whole country calls in sick on Friday. That would put the fear of God into Trump and all those who think they hold the reins of power.