Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) continued his defense of fundamental workers rights and defended the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from unjust attacks on behalf of corporate interests. Kucinich offered the following statement before an Education and Workforce Committee hearing titled "Culture of Union Favoritism: Recent Actions of the National Labor Relations Board."
"Mr. Chairman, I have been involved in several hearings dealing with the NLRB and what occurs to me, being very familiar with the case of the workers at Boeing, the question is whether workers at Boeing are going to have any right to recourse under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
"Whether you are from Washington State, South Carolina or Ohio, where I am from, the question is going to arise, do the workers in South Carolina have less protection than the workers in Washington State. And will workers all over America have less protection as a result of the National Labor Relations Act effectively being eviscerated by our friends in the majority. This is a serious question about workers rights.
"One of the witnesses gave his analysis about why union membership has dropped. Let me offer mine: the passage of NAFTA, the passage of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the emergence of the World Trade Organization, the passage of China trade. We have lost millions of manufacturing jobs in trade agreements that were aimed at a race to the bottom.
"We still have the best trained workforce, but frankly a lot of our corporations aren't committed to the Red, White and Blue, their only color is green. We take a pledge of allegiance at the beginning of Congress. Corporations don't take that pledge. They don't have any allegiance to the United States of America; their only allegiance is to their bottom line. That is fine, but don't come here and give us lectures so that our workers aren't put on the same level as workers in China, which is a Communist country. Last I checked we are still a democracy.
"According to statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), American workers today are more vulnerable to being fired without cause, more vulnerable to not getting severance, and more vulnerable to being part of a mass layoff with little notice than any worker in one of the 14 other member countries of the OECD. These 14 other member countries are western democracies comparable to the United States, nations that we consider to be our peers: countries like the UK, Australia, Ireland, Canada, France and Germany.
"A Human Rights Watch report from 2000 warned that American companies have little incentive to respect workers' rights in the face of the weak remedies called for by the National Labor Relations Act. According to Human Rights Watch, the remedies--which this Congress voted to weaken last week--are so meager that "American workers are treated by employers as a minor cost of doing business." And this was over 10 years ago. I believe that given the fact that so many Americans are currently unemployed or underemployed, while corporations sit on record numbers of cash on hand, things are even worse today for workers in America."
Congressman Kucinich has previously defended workers and the NLRB in Committee, on the House Floor and he recently briefed Members of Congress and their staff about the threat to workers posed by H.R. 2587, the so-called "The Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act," which would gut the NLRB's enforcement.