EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT -- (Senate - March 24, 2009)
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, the Employee Free Choice Act is vital legislation for achieving fairness in the workplace for hardworking men and women across America, and for strengthening the Nation's middle class. I have the deepest respect for my colleague from Pennsylvania, Senator Specter, and I welcome his recognition of the need for labor law reform. But I am also disappointed that my friend feels he cannot support the bill in its current form.
I remain deeply committed to moving this important bill forward. Millions of Americans are looking to us to make their workplaces fairer and safer, and their jobs more secure. They deserve better than they have today, and we can't leave them behind.
The Senator from Pennsylvania says that we should not take up the Employee Free Choice Act now because of the challenges facing our economy. I disagree. It is precisely because of the economic crisis that we must take new action to strengthen workers' rights.
Working Americans are suffering in ways we have not seen since the Great Depression. Wages are falling and benefits are disappearing. Workers are losing their jobs, their homes, and their hopes. Now more than ever, workers deserve a voice in the hugely important decisions that will affect their jobs and their families in the years ahead.
Unions were fundamental in building America's middle class, and have a vital role today in preserving the American dream. History shows us that strong unions mean strong economic growth that both businesses and employees can share. Protecting the right to form a union today will help countless working families achieve greater economic security and build a better and brighter future. I hope very much that all of us on both sides of the aisle can work together to pass the best possible bill to put working families back on track.