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Public Statements

Preventing Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. BUSTOS. Mr. Speaker, this is the final amendment to the bill. It will not delay or kill the bill or send it back to committee. If adopted, the bill will proceed immediately to final passage as amended.

This past November, Illinoisans and people across our country sent a strong, but simple, message to Congress, that the middle class needs to be a priority, not an afterthought.

The people I talk with back home are worn out by Washington putting politics before people. I was honored to take my oath of office in January with a mission to be part of the solution here in Congress.

Like so many other Members of the freshman class of this session of Congress, I ran for office to fight for the American worker and for a stronger middle class. I believed I could make a difference, and I still do.

The hardworking middle class people from my district in Illinois are counting on us to remember them as we deliberate in this Chamber. That begins with standing up against attempts to cut the legs out from beneath American workers, which is exactly what this bill does that's being presented today.

Mr. Speaker, without the support of organized labor, my family wouldn't be where we are today. My father-in-law, Joe, was born in a boxcar to immigrant parents from Mexico. With just an eighth grade education, he worked the line at John Deere Harvester Works in East Moline, Illinois. And because of organized labor, he earned an honest wage and benefits for his hard work. He was able to provide for his family and make sure his four children had a better life and more opportunities than he did.

Joe's youngest son is Gerry, my husband, who, with the help of organized labor, has helped lift our own family to success. I'm proud of my husband's nearly 30-year law enforcement career, and he is now the undersheriff of Rock Island County, where I live, and the commander of the Quad-City Bomb Squad.

I know my family story is not unique about how organized labor helped lift us and that so many American families share this same type of experience. Far too many people across this great Nation of ours are still struggling but are still hopeful that, if they work hard and play by the rules, they too can live the American Dream.

Unfortunately, the bill before us today tells American workers they're on their own. Instead of adding certainty and stability to our communities, this bill creates chaos and undermines decades of progress.

My amendment pleads for just a morsel of common sense. It provides a few simple but critical exceptions to the chaos that the bill otherwise promises. It protects workers who have risked their lives for our country on the battlefields abroad. These are heroes like Clarence Adams, who was among the first American marines to set foot in Iraq 10 years ago.

After Clarence returned home, he tried to exercise his right to organize at his workplace. The election was held, the union won, and then the union busting began. Clarence and 21 of his fellow workers were even fired at one point. He had one place to go, and that was to turn to the National Labor Relations Board.

Voting for this bill means stripping away those rights for Clarence and countless other brave veterans. My amendment would protect the rights of veterans to organize in the workplace.

As far too many hardworking families across our Nation feel each day, our economy is still healing.

I pledged to fight for the American worker, and that's a pledge I'm committed to keeping. The middle class is stronger because of organized labor.

If a company takes American jobs and outsources them overseas simply to avoid the formation of a union, that must not be allowed. My amendment would protect these jobs.

If a foreign company abuses our American workers' rights, we need a strong NLRB to stand up for them. My amendment does this.

If American workers face dangerous working conditions that could cost them their lives and they seek the right to organize for their own protection, we need the NLRB to function on their behalf.

If a person faces sexual harassment at the workplace or a worker faces racial discrimination, they should be allowed to join with their coworkers so they can address these issues. My amendment gives these workers a voice.

The NLRB was created to decide cases on a fair and an independent basis and has traditionally been made up of both Republican and Democrat Board members. It is there to fight for the rights of workers and the middle class against the worst abuses. They are depending on us.

I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote ``yes'' to put aside partisanship and begin focusing on the middle class and to remember all those people getting up early, working hard, and playing by the rules who deserve the same chance that my family has had to realize the American Dream.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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