Whitehouse Supports Employee Free Choice Act

This bill is being discussed on the Senate floor today. Here is Whitehouse’s statement:

For more than one hundred years, organized labor has been a strong voice, and a powerful advocate, for the working men and women of America in their fight for fair treatment, safe workplaces, and honest pay for an honest day’s work. But in recent years, it has become increasingly difficult for workers to organize and gain that voice.

Today, the Senate has an important opportunity to begin to reverse this trend: by voting in support of the Employee Free Choice Act, which takes several critical steps to ensure that all American workers have the right to form and join a union.

When a majority of workers wish to organize, they should have that right. This legislation would require the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to certify a bargaining representative if a majority of the employees sign authorization cards. The bill would also direct the NLRB to issue guidelines for selecting a bargaining representative via majority sign-up – including model language for authorization cards and procedures to verify the validity of authorization cards.

Newly-formed unions shouldn’t face stalemates and stall tactics as they advocate for their members. The Employee Free Choice Act would set a waivable timeline for reaching a first contract agreement once a representative has been certified and bargaining has commenced. Parties would be required to meet and begin bargaining no later than ten days after receiving a written request from the newly certified bargaining representative.

And this bill would strengthen existing penalties for unfair labor practices, making it easier for workers to organize without fear of reprisal or backlash.

The Employee Free Choice Act is good for American workers – and for our economy. As a group, union members make 30 percent more per week than their non-union counterparts. They are 63 percent more likely to have health insurance, and they are a staggering 386 percent more likely to have a guaranteed pension. At a time of growing income inequality, when everyday families in this country are stretched to the limit just to afford health care, or the mortgage, or gas to drive to work and to school, we can’t let this opportunity slip by. The Senate must pass this bill.

The Employee Free Choice Act would allow workers to choose a union without fear, facilitate contract negotiations, and prevent the anti-organizing scare tactics that, unfortunately, still exist today.

Mr. President, the Employee Free Choice Act is the first step towards realizing the dream of fairness for every American worker. I am proud to support this legislation, I ask my colleagues to do the same, and I yield the floor.

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