Senate Democrats

Senate Moving Forward On Employee Free Choice Act

The Senate is preparing to take up the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) this week. EFCA creates an easier path for workers to receive union representation. SenateMajority Leader Harry Reid is speaking this afternoon at an Employee Free Choice Rally in support of legislation.

Here is an excerpt from the Senator’s remarks as prepared:

[T]oday 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.

Yesterday Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Chairman of the Health Education, Labor & Penisions (HELP) Comittee, released the following statement in support of the EFCA: 

Now that the House has passed the Employee Free Choice Act with bipartisan support, I’m pleased that the Senate is moving forward on this important piece of legislation. We’ve finally raised the minimum wage but we still have a long way to go to restore the economic security that has been lost during the Bush years.   Working people aren’t getting their fair share of our economic growth.   Their hard work is producing skyrocketing corporate profits – not higher paychecks, better benefits, or better lives for their families.  The best way to see that employees get their fair share is to give them a stronger voice.

The HELP Committee also provided a fact sheet on how the Act will help restore middle class security. The fact sheet included the following points on how the freedom to choose a union is vital to restoring the American Dream, especially for the most vulnerable Americans:

  • Unions help American workers get their fair share – union wages are almost 30% higher than non-union wages.  Unions are also a cure for rising inequality because they raise wages more for low- and middle-wage workers than for higher-wage workers.  
    • Union cashiers earn 46% more than non-union cashiers.
    • Union food preparation workers earn nearly 50% more than non-union workers.
    • Union maids and housekeepers earn 31% more than their non-union counterparts.
  • The freedom to join a union is a women’s issue and a civil rights issue.  Union women earn 31 percent more than women workers who don’t have a union.  African American union members earn 36 percent more, and Latino workers earn 46 percent more.
  • Union workers are almost twice as likely to have employer-sponsored health benefits and a pension at work.  They are more than four times more likely to have a secure, defined-benefit pension plan than non-union workers.  
  • Protecting the freedom to choose a union benefits all Americans, whether or not they have a union at work.  In industries and occupations where many workplaces are unionized, non-union employers will frequently meet union standards or otherwise improve compensation.  A high school graduate in a non-union workplace whose industry is 25 percent unionized gets paid 5 percent more than similar workers in less unionized industries.

You can read the whole fact sheet by going here (PDF).

We will update this post later with a video from the rally. Stay tuned.