Weekly Democratic Address
February 7, 2020
Hi, I’m Andy Levin, and I represent Michigan’s 9th District in the beautiful Detroit suburbs of Macomb and Oakland Counties.
I’ve spent most of my career helping workers form unions and bargain collectively, so I know first-hand the transformative power that comes with the ability to organize freely. The ability of workers from all walks of life to unite and demand fair wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions is truly awe-inspiring.
But after decades of special interest-funded Republican attacks on labor laws, rendering them almost entirely ineffective, union membership in America is just a fraction of what it used to be.
The result is an American economy that is not working for most Americans.
Corporate profits are skyrocketing while the share of health care costs paid by employers is falling. Worker productivity is at its peak, yet wages are stagnant. Over the past three decades, the average income for the bottom 90 percent of families increased by just 1.1 percent, while the average incomes of the wealthiest one percent nearly doubled.
This week, the House passed a bill to reverse these trends, so workers everywhere can enjoy their fair share of the economy we help create.
The Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or PRO Act, restores fairness to the economy by strengthening the laws that protect workers’ freedom to form and join unions.
The American economy should reward hard work. But most Americans are working too hard for too little. Strong unions are the solution.
Over the last eight decades, unions have consistently provided workers with a 10-20 percent wage boost over their non-union counterparts – they virtually built the middle class of this country. The benefits of union membership are so strong that even the children of union workers enjoy greater economic mobility as they grow up.
Unions also help correct inequalities that hurt America’s most marginalized and vulnerable communities.
For example, union members of color have almost five times the median wealth of their non-union counterparts. And you know how women still make only 77 cents for every dollar men make? Well, for women who are members of unions or covered by union contracts, the gender pay gap nearly disappears.
The PRO Act will help protect the basic right to join a union by creating meaningful, enforceable penalties when companies violate workers’ rights. It will expand workers’ collective bargaining rights and close loopholes that corporations use to exploit workers. And it will strengthen workers’ access to fair union elections, without fear of intimidation or suppression by their employers.
House Democrats are taking action to level the playing field, rebuild the middle class and restore the dignity and value of work in America.
Voting for the PRO Act was one of my proudest moments in Congress. While Republicans are working on behalf of special interests and big corporations, Democrats are fighting for working families with our For the People Agenda.