WASHINGTON, DC - Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in support of the Employee Free Choice Act. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
"Mr. Speaker, this bipartisan legislation - the Employee Free Choice Act - is simply about establishing fairness in the workplace and providing America's workers with a free choice to bargain for better wages, benefits and work conditions.
"The fact of the matter is, the current system for forming labor unions is badly broken and undemocratic. Far too often, employers intimidate, harass, coerce or even fire workers who support a union. To address this blatant unfairness, this legislation simply allows workers to form a union if a majority signs cards saying that they want a union.
"Under current law, workers may use the majority sign-up process only if their employer agrees. In contrast, the employee free choice act would leave this choice - whether to use the national labor relations board election process or majority sign-up - with the employees, not the employer. It's simply a red herring to claim that this legislation abolishes the NLRB election process. It does not! The NLRB process is still available, if workers choose it.
"We all know what's really going on here today. It's no secret: the Administration and many in the Republican Party have a long-standing, deep-seated animosity toward the organized labor movement - despite the fact that working men and women are the backbone of our economy and have built this country into what it is today.
"Over the last six years, the Administration, among other things, has dropped an ergonomic safety standard, tried to eliminate Davis-Bacon protections, denied collective bargaining rights to federal employees, and tried to deny overtime pay.
"It is no surprise today that they would oppose this legislation, which seeks to give workers a meaningful choice in selecting their representative and stiffen penalties for discrimination against workers who support a union.
"Mr. Speaker, hard-working families today are increasingly squeezed by stagnant incomes and the rising costs of education, health care, transportation, food and housing. American workers deserve to be fairly compensated for the dedication, loyalty and skill that they bring to their jobs - and this legislation will help restore fairness to the workplace.
"I urge my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to vote for this important legislation."