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Public Statements

Labor Day

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, yesterday Americans of all ages, from all segments of society, from hundreds of occupations and professions, celebrated something uniquely American: Labor Day.

Our workers, tens of millions of hourly wage earners and hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs, farmers and managers, tradesmen and saleswomen, our workers have built a middle class larger, broader, and more prosperous than any in world history.

They all have one thing in common: They are increasedly more productive, creating greater wealth and larger profits than ever for their employers. Yesterday, the Columbus Dispatch reported that according to the International Labor Organization, American workers are the most productive in the world.

The average U.S. worker produces more than $63,885 of wealth each year. But increasingly, American workers have not shared in the wealth they have created, in wages, in health benefits, in a meaningful pension, that highly productive workers in our country used to enjoy.

Ohio workers are fighting back to build a decent standard of living to provide opportunities for our children and to construct a more prosperous and egalitarian society.

But our Nation and my State have struggled; struggled in part because of the Federal Government's wrongheaded trade policy and tax policies, which all too often encourage investors to move jobs overseas, and in part because of a drifting State Government in Columbus which fell short in educating our young people and did little to erect a manufacturing policy to prepare for our future.

In the spirit of Labor Day, let me share the stories of a handful of hard-working often heroic Ohio workers who are making a difference. Dee Dee Tillman and Carlos Sanchez participated in the negotiations representing 1,200 janitors in Cincinnati, 1,200 men and women who are working hard, raising their children, contributing to their community, and earning not much more than the minimum wage.

Joined by their colleagues, they and their union reached an agreement with Cincinnati office building owners. Over the next 4 years, 1,200 janitors in Cincinnati will get a $2.95-an-hour raise, health benefits and vacation pay for the first time and a small pension.

At the other end of the State, in Mentor, Roger Sustar speaks out every day for American manufacturing. He recognizes businesses similar to his, small manufacturing companies, are vital to the economic security and the national security for our country. On most Saturdays, he volunteers his time to train students in the basics of manufacturing.

In northwest Ohio, in the flatlands of Henry County, Mark Schwiebert is a highly productive farmer in an increasingly competitive environment. He is proud of his successful and tidy farm, to be sure, but he also takes seriously his role as a citizen. He is an advocate for family farmers and for fair trade, understanding the prosperity of our State depends on a vibrant rural Ohio, where young people want to stay and work in their community.

Sue Klein, another hero who cares so much about our State, works at a large daily newspaper. She too makes her employer a more profitable enterprise.

She works hard. She gets rave reviews from her coworkers, is uncommonly devoted to her aging parents, and gives back to her community in a dozen ways.

On Labor Day, we salute American labor and Ohio labor. We celebrate our State's heroes: Dee Dee, Carlos, Mark, Roger, and Sue. We thank them and so many others.

I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.


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