Pelosi Floor Speech in Support of Workers’ Rights

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today against Republicans’ so-called “Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act.”  Below are the Leader’s remarks. 

“Thank you very much Mr. Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for yielding, for his leadership on behalf of America’s working families, and for bringing the opposition to this legislation to the floor today.

“Mr. Speaker, my colleagues, more than 75 years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt signed a bill which created the National Labor Relations Board and said he did so to give every worker ‘the freedom of choice and action which is justly his.’  Today we say: ‘what is justly his or hers.’  That was a very important moment for workers because it said that they could negotiate, they could bargain collectively–giving great leverage to workers in our country and it was necessary.

“The freedom of choice and action has rested at the core of a growing, thriving American workforce.  It has created the American middle class that has made our country great and is the backbone of our democracy.

“This legislation today undermines freedom of choice and action.  It will weaken our middle class and again, weaken our democracy.  For months, in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states nationwide, Americans have seen Republican governors and legislatures attack teachers, firefighters and police officers and other public servants.  And we’ve seen American workers–union and non-union alike–fight back, inspiring the nation.

“My colleagues on the other side of the aisle have promoted many myths about their misguided legislation, which they’re bringing forward today and how it will impact the National Labor Relations Board.

“So I’d like to clarify a few facts.  First this bill mandates delay rather than minimizes it.  It encourages frivolous litigation, rather than discourages it.  It convolutes and distorts elections, rather than simplifying them.  Simply put, this legislation would deny workers their right to a free and fair election to form a union.  It adds extensive delays to the process as workers organize, with the clear intention of, as my colleague Congressman George Miller, the Ranking Member of the Education and Labor Committee has said: ‘wearing down workers so they give up fighting for a better deal.’  It’s an age-old tactic.  It must be rejected.

“At a time when Americans are demanding jobs and job growth, economic growth for our country, today’s legislation is the wrong priority.  We need to be solving the problem and challenge of creating jobs and not adding to the problem, as this bill would do.

“There is a great deal to be done to reigniting the American dream.  Igniting the American dream is what Franklin Roosevelt did when he signed this bill and many other initiatives of that era, and they corrected many ills in our economy and our society, in communities across the country in terms of fairness.  Fairness–an American value.

“So we want to reignite the American dream, to build ladders of success for all who want to work hard, play by the rules, remove obstacles to fuller participation in our economy so that many more workers can participate in America’s prosperity.  This is about, again, strengthening the middle class, the backbone of our democracy.  Instead this legislation will have the opposite effect of eroding rights and opportunity.

“I urge my colleagues to vote ‘no.’ I yield back the balance of my time.”

Newsletter Signup