On Thursday, in a 241-185 vote, the US House of Representatives approved the Employee Free Choice Act. House Labor Committee Chairman George Miller called it "an important step towards strengthening America's middle class." Senator John Edwards said it was "a victory for working men and women across the country."
This legislation will restore the right of workers to form unions and bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions. It will give workers a bigger voice in the workplace, enabling them to demand a raise and bargain for health care coverage and pensions.
This legislation will help bring an end to a system that has allowed corporations free reign to destroy America's middle class and lower living standards and working conditions by blocking workers' choice. While half the workers not currently represented by unions say they would join one if it were an option, when workers attempt to unionize, they face major obstacles. 75% of companies hire consultants or union-busters to fight organizing campaigns. More than 22,000 workers each year are illegally fired, demoted, laid off, suspended without pay, or denied work by their employers as a result of union activity. This legislation helps bring an end to a system that allows employers to coerce, intimidate, harass, threaten and even fire workers who dare to bargain for a better life.
Research shows that union members earn 30% more than nonunion workers, are 63% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and are four times more likely to have a guaranteed pension. Organized labor has been a major force in strengthening the middle class and providing good jobs for our citizens. This is why Sen. John Edwards said that passage of this bill "gives more Americans the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty and into the middle class"
I join with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress who stood up to the powerful corporate lobby on behalf of working families. I applaud my representative, John McHugh, for being one of only 13 Republicans to support the bill.