Kyrsten Sinema is What Workers Are Up Against

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act would provide a jolt for American labor. It would eliminate “right to work” laws, punish companies for violating workers’ rights, and make it easier for workers to organize and hold fair union elections.

No wonder Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is looking for reasons to vote against it.

Video obtained by More Perfect Union shows Sinema speaking to the Arizona Chamber of Commerce about the PRO Act. She assured her state’s business leaders that their interests were hers. Sinema even solicited them for arguments against the PRO Act that she could take back to Washington.

This is typical politics for the most part. It’s a moderate Democratic senator looking out for the businesspeople in her state—in other words, the people who really matter. The tweet mentions there’s nothing about Sinema listening to workers, which is fair. She probably wouldn’t discuss anyway at a Chamber of Commerce meeting. But it stings a little extra after her thumbs down vote on a $15 federal minimum wage provision back in early March. It’s not just that she’s willing to listen to business leaders and not workers. It’s that she’s also willing to performatively rub salt in the wounds of workers in her state and around the country.

Sinema takes care in using sanitized language, but even a layman can figure out what she means. “Stay in contact with my office” about how the PRO Act “may impact you and your company” is politispeak for “continue telling me why you don’t like this bill.” It’s a calculated way to say she cares more about business leaders than the people who work for them, but the calculation isn’t that difficult to solve. She could say it in plain English and no one would be any more or less shocked.

This is what workers are up against. It’s bad enough that the president essentially talked the $15 minimum wage out of the American Rescue Plan before Sinema had the chance to reject it. And it’s gutting that companies like Amazon have endless resources to crush union drives while other major companies can continue exploiting independent contractor status. But a senator so brazenly disinterested workers’ rights as she makes dumb Instagram posts is infuriating. Even the company that made her “Fuck Off” ring seems to care more than she does.

Unfortunately, circumstances have thrust Sinema into being one of the most influential members of the Democratic Party. With a larger Dem majority, she and fellow moderate West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin would hardly be relevant. They might even threaten to vote Republican in some instances. In a spit Senate, though, they’re linchpins to every piece of legislation. There’s a difference in this instance, though. While Manchin still opposes a $15 minimum wage—even mocking it at a lobbying even earlier this weekhe does support the PRO Act. Sinema and fellow Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly (as well as Virginia Sen. Mark Warner) are the only Democrats that haven’t co-sponsored the bill.

The PRO Act hasn’t appeared before the Senate yet. But when it does, we’ll have a good idea of where Sinema stands—and not just because she’s anti-workers’ rights. We’ll know because she’s so eager to make a show out of it.