Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke today at an Employee Free Choice rally in support of legislation that would create an easier path for workers to receive union representation. The rally included thousands of labor advocates and leaders. The following are Reid’s prepared remarks:
“Democrats are in control of Congress now because of you. You made all the difference – and let me start with two words: thank you.
“This year has not been easy. We may have the majority in Congress, but the Republican minority is intent on blocking us from giving you and all Americans the new direction you deserve. Nothing we’ve done this year has come easy, but we are making progress. We raised the minimum wage for the first time in 10 years. We provided health insurance coverage for the children of millions of working families. And we continue to hold President Bush accountable for his catastrophic war.
“But there is far more to be done, and the fights aren’t going to get any easier. So today when I introduce the Employee Free Choice Act, get ready for a fight. Every single Senator ought to support this bill. It ought to be a no-brainer. This bill renews the commitment made to our parents and grandparents 70 years ago, when President Roosevelt delivered them a New Deal.
“Last year, the top three hedge funds earned $4.4 billion in profits, and the ex-CEO of Exxon got a $400 million golden parachute. Today, hourly wages are down while the number of uninsured is up. Today, household income is down, while the average CEO makes 411 times more than the average worker. Today – for far too many Americans – that New Deal has become a raw deal. It’s time to give working families a square deal. A square deal that honors workers and their families by giving them a real chance for a better life.
“You know what the Employee Free Choice Act will mean: higher wages. Better health insurance. Safer working conditions. And by the way, we all know that employees who receive a fair standard of living are more productive. This is a win-win for employers and employees alike.
“Despite these facts – which should be obvious to everyone – you can expect to see the same Republican obstructionism we’ve seen all year. But we all know that no one fights harder than working people. You’ve held 90 events in 40 states. You’ve mobilized nearly 100 buses to be here today. You’ve survived this heat. You’ve taken the fight to the airwaves and you’ve taken it to the streets. Now it’s time to take it to the halls of Congress.
“I’m here to tell you that I’m standing right by your side. Democrats are standing right by your side. And together we will deliver this bill to you and to every hard-working man and woman who deserves the fairness, equality and opportunity it provides.”