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Pelosi: Members of the CWA Are Building the Infrastructure of the Future

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke this morning at the Communication Workers of America's annual legislative conference.  Below are her remarks as prepared:

'Six weeks ago, a proud CWA member named Theresa Joyce came to Capitol Hill to testify before Congressman George Miller's Education and Labor Committee on the Employee Free Choice Act.   

'She shared her powerful story about working for a company where, as she said, 'health care benefits were costly, wages were stagnant, and employees were treated with little respect.'  It is a story too familiar to many of America's working men and women. 

'Theresa knew things would get better if employees were unionized.  But getting there was not easy.  Theresa faced harassment and intimidation from her supervisors, who spread fear and misinformation among her coworkers. 

'As all of you do, Theresa believes that the right to organize is based upon fundamental American values.  A proud patriot, Theresa said of our troops, 'Every day they risk their lives to protect our freedoms.  Every day they work to spread democratic principles and values to audiences abroad. It's outrageous and it's shameful when the very freedoms they fight to preserve are the very freedoms that are routinely trampled on, here, at home.'

'Theresa is now a card carrying member of the CWA, and we are grateful to her for her testimony. 

'But for the other 57 million American workers who say they would join a union if they had the chance, help is on the way. 

EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT

'I am proud to say that earlier this month, with almost unanimous Democratic support, and under the leadership of Chairman George Miller, the House of Representatives passed the most significant labor law reform of this generation - the Employee Free Choice Act - card check.

'It says to workers like Theresa, when you want a union, you get a union.  I thank you for your Herculean efforts to pass this bill. 

'But our work is not yet finished.  With your continued advocacy, we need to pass this bill in the Senate, and send it to the President for his signature. 

'Many of the benefits all workers enjoy today are the results of the struggles of organized labor - and their victories have not just benefited union workers.  Millions of those who never had the chance to join a union, enjoy better wages, safer workplaces and greater rights because of the battles fought by union members.  Unions have helped make America the most prosperous, most productive nation in the world, with a vibrant middle class.  Organized labor has helped put America in the lead.

'It is in that spirit that I come here today. 

'For nearly 70 years, CWA has been making sure that American workers have the skills and the support they need to succeed in new jobs, and to pioneer new industries.

'As your motto says, the CWA truly is the union for the information age.  In large measure that's due to your visionary leaders.

'I want to thank your former President Morty Bahr.  It has been an honor to work with him over the years, and see firsthand his commitment to CWA's members and America's futures. 

'I also want to acknowledge your President Larry Cohen.  He is leading, standing strong, and fighting for CWA families every day. 

'Right now, Larry is advocating on your behalf with the Joint Committee on Printing to ensure you are treated fairly at the bargaining table.  With Democrats at the helm, we will engage in rigorous oversight of the Public Printer to ensure that the GPO does not pursue policies harmful to labor.

BROADBAND

'At the founding of our country, transportation and communication were the same; a message could only travel as fast as a horse could run or a ship could sail. 

 

'Today, as we can communicate around the globe instantaneously, we have dramatically improved productivity, and strengthened the American economy. 

 

'It is the members of the CWA who are building the infrastructure of the future. 

'Nobody knows this issue better than you, and that is why we are particularly grateful for your advocacy for high-speed broadband build out. 

'Nationwide deployment of high speed, always-on broadband Internet and mobile communications will fuel the development of millions of new jobs in the United States. Just as railroads and highways did in the past, broadband and mobile communications will dramatically increase the productivity and efficiency of our economy in the future.

'The Communication Workers of America are on the forefront of ensuring that America remains the global leader in innovation and technology. 

'In our Innovation Agenda: A Commitment to Competitiveness to Keep America #1, House Democrats echoed your goals of ensuring that the United States has the world's most advanced telecommunications infrastructure.

'I know that the CWA has proposed new and significant policy recommendations to stimulate high speed broadband build-out and demand. I've talked to Larry Cohen about your 'Speed Matters' initiative, and I look forward to working with you to implement it.

'Speed certainly does matter, and I agree that we must set national goals for truly high-speed broadband services.

'The Innovation Agenda is designed to jumpstart this process, to invest in ideas and innovation, and to work toward a national plan for universal broadband. The Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee, Chairman Ed Markey is currently holding a series of hearings on these subjects and will be working on legislation so that we can begin to reach the Innovation Agenda's goal of ensuring universal, affordable broadband to every American.

BROADBAND ACCESS MAP

'One of the challenges in reaching any national goal for broadband deployment is the fact that we don't know where the broadband is actually deployed.

'Developing a broadband access map of the country will allow us to know where the broadband is. And it will allow us to more accurately target grants, loans, and tax credits that will spur deployment to the clearly defined underserved areas in the country.

'A key value of any telecommunications policy must be that that no one is more than a keystroke or a mouse click away from the jobs and opportunity that broadband both creates and supports.

'That is why I am a strong supporter of build-out requirements as a part of telecommunications policy - and I appreciate your support on the build-out provisions that House Democrats pursued as part of last year's Telecom bill.

'We must bridge the digital divide so that every American has access to affordable broadband Internet service and communications technology.

HEALTH CARE

'I know your third issue of concern is health care for all Americans. 

'It is one House Democrats share.  Working together, we can make the wealthiest nation in the world, also the healthiest. 

'In the 100 hours Democrats controlled the Congress, we helped make prescription drugs more affordable for our seniors.  I am pleased to report that our budget, on which we begin debate today, invests in ensuring America's children have health care - a giant first step. 

'We are also working to expand federal investments in health research, reduce the burden of chronic disease, reduce drug costs, and slow growth in health costs. We believe health technology can mean better care, lower costs, less hassle, and fewer mistakes.

'These are the building blocks to providing every American with affordable and accessible health care coverage.  And we won't stop working until we have achieved it.

'House Democrats stand with the members of the Communications Workers of America.  And we know that you stand with us.  Because in order for us to stand strong, we must stand together. 

'Standing together, working together, fighting together, we have been given the opportunity to take our nation in a New Direction.  And together, we will.

'Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.'