Hare: Employee Free Choice Act Would Fix a Broken System
Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL) today joined Congressional leaders, including House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-CA), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) to express his strong support for the Employee Free Choice Act. Attached are his remarks, as prepared.
"For thirteen years, I cut men's suits at Seaford Clothing Factory in Rock Island, IL.
"Let me be clear: I would not be able to stand before you today as a Member of Congress if it were not for the representation I received from my union.
"As a lining cutter, my membership in UNITE HERE Local 617 afforded me access to higher wages, good benefits, and invaluable workplace safety protections.
"I was able to send my kids to college, buy a house, and begin to build a secure retirement.
"More and more, ordinary Americans are seeing these opportunities slip away.
"Worker productivity is upbut wages are declining. Corporate CEO's are enjoying record profitsyet average workers are struggling to pay their home heating bills, afford health care, and save for college.
"I believe the fundamental root of this middle class squeeze' is the decline in union membership.
"50 years ago nearly a third of all workers were members of a union. In 1983, it was 20 percent. Today, only 12 percent.
"Why is this significant? Because union workers earn an average of 30 percent more than their non-union counterparts. And they are much more likely to have health care and pension benefits.
"Does this current decline accurately express the will of workers? No. According to the AFL-CIO, 60 million nonunion workers say they want to have a union in their workplace.
"There is only one way to explain this troubling disconnect: a broken system.
"Workers who want to join a union are not being given the opportunity to do so.
"Plain and simplethe bipartisan Employee Free Choice Act requires employers to recognize a union formed by a majority sign-up and increases penalties for breaking the law.
"Above all, it restores fairness to the process by letting employees decide if and how they want to form a union.
"In choosing to join a union, I was able to make it from the floor of the Seaford Clothing Factory to the halls of Congress. Let's give all Americans that opportunity."