Our nation’s middle class constantly faces obstacles just to make ends meet. Rising health care, housing, tuition, transportation, and energy costs have made it more and more difficult for working families to stay above water.
While CEO’s are benefiting from generous pay and retirement packages, working families in New York lack minimum security, continuously losing pensions benefits and incurring wages cuts. Nearly 2 million New York City residents under the age of 65 are without health insurance and only 21% of workers in the private sector have defined-benefit pensions.
The Bush administration insists on denying our middle class an opportunity to grow. It’s no secret that the current administration has taken the side of corporate America. Corporations continue to profit by millions, while our working class falls short on resources and the nation simply cannot continue on this course. We need to change our labor laws in order to provide our workers the leverage they need.
Democrats have made helping working families a priority and, for the first time in ten years, Congress passed a bill in the initial 100 hours that will increase the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. While this was an important first step to helping our working families and the economy, our current labor laws remain dysfunctional and fail to protect our workers. More needs to be done.
Under current laws, workers right to organize remains unprotected and now more than ever, we need to protect that right. Vice President Cheney recently stated that President Bush would veto The Employee Free Choice Act if it clears Congress, once again acting on behalf of corporate interest and against working-class Americans.
The Employee Free Choice Act of 2007, a bill I have proudly cosponsored every time it’s been introduced, is a key step to ensuring our workers rights. It will give workers the freedom to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation, establish stronger penalties for violation of employee rights, provide mediation and arbitration for first-contract disputes, and most importantly, change workers’ lives.”
Speech from http://www.house.gov/velazquez/Statements/022107.htm, August 27, 2007.