tv Afghanistan Reconstruction CSPAN November 1, 2017 4:00pm-5:23pm EDT
consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: thank you. first of all, i want to thank my colleague senator brown for leading the effort on the floor to speak out against the latest attacks on union rights that are in front of the supreme court right now. i'm very proud to join him to highlight the contribution unions have made to our middle class, to the economy, and to our country. and i want to express my commitment to stand up against any attempts to undermine workers' rights to join a union or bargain collectively. since day one, president trump has broken his campaign promise, which was to put our workers first by rolling back worker protections and putting corporations and billionaires ahead of our working families. and now we are seeing corporate special interests doubling down on their attempt to undermine the rights of workers to band together. so it is critical now more than ever that we are committed to protecting our workers and their ability to advocate for safe
working conditions, better wages, and a secure retirement. unions help create the middle class -- helped create the middle class in our country and helped a lot of families in the last century become financially secure. but over the last few decades and workers' bargaining power and union density have declined, we as a country have seen a decline in the middle class and a rise in income inequality in this country. too many families today, as we all know, are struggling to make ends meet. meanwhile, corporations' profits are at an all-time high. mr. president, i just want to say i'm going to continue to fight back against any attempt by this administration or special interests to rig the rules against the people who go to work every day. and i will keep fighting for policies that help families save just a little more in their bank account, whether it includes raising the minimum wage or fighting for equal pay for equal work, or strengthening our workers' rights to speak up, join a union, and bargain
i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. duckworth: i here to speak out about p american families -- how americans can secure a safe retirement after a lifetime of hard work and to give them the freedom to join together to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions. this is important for our families and nation's economy. organized labor is one of the greatest forces dreefg the middle class which is -- driving the middle class which is important for our country. this is important for our veterans. union jobs help working moms an dads put p food on the table and union jobs engine our economy and our middle class. i am working every day to protect the rights of work working -- working people. we must work together to combat the assault on the protections that workers have fought hard to
secure. it is more important than ever that we work to expand opportunity for hardworking americans, many of whom come from a union home. that means passing labor law reform to make it easier, not harder to join a union. that also means expanding the use of project agreements and to oppose efforts -- the davis-bacon act. the federal government can and should be a model employer that -- that encourages companies to pay fair wages. it's important to note that the great progress that collective bargaining is making for all people. more families today have two working parents than ever before and women's growing role in the union has increased to half. in illinois alone 44% of union workers are women. the labor movement, which had a
pivoted role in the 40-hour workweek, overtime pay is now also impacting women workers and their families in a significant way. the collective voice of working americans has -- that working americans have is responsible for improving sick leave and paid family leave policies. these efforts can lead to reducing the nation's long-lasting wage gaps. labor unions tend to raise wages and improve benefits for all represented workers, especially for women. women of all major racial and ethnic groups experience a wage advantage when they are in a union. there's still a long way to go in the wage gap fight, but unions are making -- leading the way to make those gaps smaller. unfortunately organized labor is under attack. in illinois the antiunion surge
is on the rise, nationwide so-called right to work efforts are growing. we need to be clear on one thing -- these laws do absolutely nothing to strengthen workers' rights despite the misleading names and rhetoric. make no mistake, opponents of organized labor are well funded and relentless. we must work together to challenge the growing dangers to america's middle class. the united states supreme court will soon decide a case that could determine the future of american unions. a slim majority of conservative justices may hand down an anti-worker decision that would dramatically undo existing precedent and sabotage the ability of unions to represent hardworking americans. workers should not be able to reap all the benefit of union negotiations while refusing pay dues that made those efforts possible. make no mistake, a decision sanctioning this practice would
strip away freedom from millions of americans. it would steal their freedom to join together to bargain for better wages, it would steal their freedom to insist on worker protectionings and it would -- protections and it would -- another way we can support our union workers is by making a serious investment in the nation's infrastructure which leads to more good-paying jobs and greater economic opportunity for working families. improving our nation's infrastructure is really just common sense. that's why i introduced a bill which was passed into law to cut red tape and reduce delays on construction projects in illinois and our surrounding states. upgrading our transportation systems will help illinoisans and all americans who depend on our roads and transit systems to get to work every day as well as businesses that need our airports, highways, and our freight network to ship their products. i'm working each day to support
our hardworking middle-class families. unions have become champions for working families in and out of federal government. i thank our union representatives for all the work they do for our families, our communities, and our nation. thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: thank you, mr. president. last year powerful corporate interest groups actually stole ar supreme court -- stole a supreme court seat and handed it over to their hand-picked choice, neil gorsuch. now they are about to use that seat to deal a devastating blow to hardworking teachers, firefighters, and police across the country. on september 28 the supreme court announced it would hear a
case called janice v.afme. afme represents public sector workers in illinois. this case will determine if the public sector that represents teachers, police officers, and firefighters in states and cities across the country can collect fees from all the employees in the workplaces they represent. many expect that justice gorsuch will deliver the deciding vote in that case, that he will force unions to represent employees who do not pay dues, and in doing so, cut off sustainable funding for public union organizing. now, judges are supposed to be impartial, but there's no reason to expect that justice gorsuch is impartial in this case. on the afternoon of september 28, the very same day that the supreme court announced that it would hear the janice case, justice gorsuch attended a
luncheon at the trump international hotel. he didn't just attend lunch at a hotel that makes money for the president. he gave a keynote speech to a group funded by the koch brothers. wealthy donors pumping money behind the janice case. this shno surprise. unions -- this is no surprise. unions fight back and call out billionaires and rig the system. what's at stake in the janus case is the basic freedom to building is strong and valuable, the freedom to have a real voice to speak out, the freedom to build a future that doesn't hang by a thread at the whim of a
billionaire. and just as the supreme court decides to take up a decision that puts the freedom of millions of working people in jeopardy, justice gorsuch shows up as the star attraction in jeopardy -- just as the supreme court decides to take up a decision that puts the freedom of millions of working people in jeopardy, justice gorsuch shows up as the star attraction for a billionaire sponsored outing to celebrate an organization that is sponsoring an operation to put workers' freedom on the chopping block. with this kind of brazen disregard for fairness and impartiality, it's no wonder that gallup polls found that fewer than half of all americans approve of the way that the supreme court is handling its job. in a shameless position to abandon the appearance of
neutrality, justice gorsuch makes it clear that he's on the attack of american unions and american workers. in the trump administration, workers have been under repeated attack. since taking office, president trump has signed several laws sent to him by the republican congress, laws that directly undermine the wages, benefits, health, and safety of american workers. in just ten months, they've rolled back rules designed to make sure that federal contractors don't cheat their workers out of hard-earned wages. they have delayed safety standards that keep workers from being exposed to lethal cars againic materials many they gave financiers more time to cheat hardworking americans out of billions of dollars in retirement savings. the list goes on. this is a democracy, and in a
democracy the government in washington is supposed to work for the people who sent us here. so why is it that the federal government seems to be working against the interests of 150 million americans who work for a living? well, there's one reason, money. money slithers through washington like a snake. its influence is everywhere. there are obvious ways that we know about, the campaign contributions from giant corporations, and their armies of lawyers and lobbyists, but it is also the experts who are funded by those who want to help the rich and powerful to get richer and more powerful. powerful interest invested vast sums of money in electing president trump, and with each of his anti-worker actions,
their investments are paying off. powerful interests also sent vast sums of money to push federal judges who will tilt our courts even further in fair of billionaires and big businesses. they did it when they spent millions of dollars to hold open a supreme court seat for over a year. they did it when they spent millions more to promote neil gorsuch to fill that seat. now that the court is poised to deliver a massive blow to public sector unions and workers, their investment paying off big time. the stakes here couldn't be higher. millions of teachers, nurses, firefighters, police officers are looking to the court for a fair hearing of the case. holding out hope that their freedom to come together and to stand up for themselves in the workplace, their freedom to
fight for higher wages, their freedom to fight for more generous benefits, and their free doom to -- freedom to fight for a better future for themselves and their children will be preserved. unless we make real change, working people are just going to get kicked again and again. and we can make change. we can make the change right here in washington. we can stand up and fight for our democracy, and we can start by demanding that everyone in our government is accountable, including the president of the united states and the supreme court of the united states. thank you, mr. president. i yield. and i subject the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: mr. president, i would ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: i ask also consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. casey: thank you very much. 40 years ago the united states supreme court ruled that nonunion public workers who benefit from the work conducted by a union to negotiate contracts that they benefit from should have to pay a fee to cover costs associated with this work. if all workers benefit, it's only the right thing that everyone contributes a fair share fee. however, in recent years, there's been a well-funded
effort by special interest groups backed by corporate billionaires to dismantle unions and silence the voice of workers. there have been a number of attempts to overturn the 1977 decision in aboud v. detroit board of education. other efforts have targeted state legislatures where they've had success in many states. in other states like pennsylvania, these efforts were blocked. workers have already the right to decide whether or not to join a union. they have that right to decide. in its -- i should say it is common sense that if these workers benefit from the higher wages and better working conditions that result from contract negotiations undertaken by the union, that those workers should have to chip in for the cost of these negotiations.
that's just fair. these negotiations get results and they benefit workers. they benefit workers who are in the union and benefit workers who are not in the union. the right to bargain collectively has been an integral part of raising incomes and growing the middle class over the course of the last century. being able to organize and bargain collectively allows workers to demand higher wages and salaries and, of course, boost their incomes. these workers have more money to provide for their families, to increase consumption which in turn increases both production and employment. putting more money in the hands of workers is good for workers and for the country. over the last several decades, we've seen the balance of power across our nation tilt more and more in favor of the wealthy and the largest corporate interests
at the expense of working americans. the supreme court has not been immune from this trend. under chief justice roberts, the court has become an ever more reliable ally for big corporations. a major study published in the minnesota law review in 2013 found that the four conservative justices currently sitting on the court, justices alito, roberts, thomas, and kennedy are among the six most business friendly supreme court justices since 1946. so four of the six most business friendly serving on the court at the same time. a review by the constitutional accountability center, which is an ongoing review and is updated with every case the supreme court decides, that accountability center shows the
consequences of the court's corporate tilt finding that the chamber of commerce has had a success rate of 70%, 70% in cases before the roberts court a significant increase over previous courts. these are all critical cases. these are cases of critical importance to everyday americans, cases involving, for example, rules for consumer contract, challenges to regulations ensuring fair pay and labor standards, attempts by consumers to hold companies accountable for product safety, and much more. well funded corporate special interests do not have the best interests of working families at heart. they're pushing these efforts to reduce their bottom line by reducing your incomes, the incomes of working families. that's why we're standing today to make sure that the voice of
working pennsylvanians and americans are heard. to increase incomes and strengthen the middle class, we need to stop the assault on workers and labor unions, whether it happens in congress or in state legislatures, or indeed in the united states supreme court. mr. president, i would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. peters: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. peters: mr. president, i rise today to speak in proud support of american workers, the men and women who built our cars and our homes, who move american-made products across oceans, lakes, and highways, who teach our children every school day, who take care of our families when they get sick, and who keep us safe in our communities. mr. president, i have seen firsthand the importance of unions, both in my home state
where i grew up and across the country. this is deeply personal for me. my father herb was a public school teacher and an active member of the michigan education association. my father-in-law raul is a proud member of the united autoworkers, my mother, madeliene, found economic opportunity as a nurse's aide. she fought for a better workplace for our colleagues, and then she went on to organize her workplace and later served as a union steward with the sciu. my parents raised me in a middle-class union household and instilled in me both to stand up for rights and to never take those rights for granted. standing together for safer
workplaces and better hours, michigan strong labor union built a stronger manufacturing sector and middle class that made the united states a global economic powerhouse. my parents and their fellow union members embraced the union values that built michigan, the ability to earn a good life where you grow up, hard work, fairness, and looking out for your neighbor, whether it's your neighbor on the assembly line or your neighborhood. these are not just union values, these are american values, and i learned to cherish them at a very young age. now i'm sorry to say that these values are under attack and i can't help but to take it personally. this year we have seen new and unprecedented attempts to undermine our nation's workers and their ability to collectively bargain. earlier this year my republican colleagues passed legislation to repeal federal rules that simply
required businesses to disclose previous workplace safety and fair-pay violations before they could contract with the federal government. the reason for this rule was fairly straightforward. we should not be sending taxpayer dollars to employers that can't keep their employees safe or that cheat them out of their hard-earned dollars. yet, republicans repealed the rule, and now across the country we are seeing a wave of so-called right-to-work legislation which, in faculties -- in practice, means you can work more hours for less pay. in michigan we are seeing the impact of this misguided legislation. supporters of this policies told us that wages and job growth would increase if michigan would just pass laws to crack down on union membership. well, michigan has the law, but workers and their families
aren't seeing any of the promised benefits. in years since passage of the law, the economic data clearly shows that, yes, corporate profits are up but not wages. in fact, when comparing michigan to states that haven't attacked union membership, studies show that we have fallen behind prounion states when it comes to worker pay. i'm deeply concerned about the efforts of antiunion work r laws, including the janusv. afscme case. a negative ruling in this case would be a huge loss for american workers and undermine the right to collectively bargain. mr. president, we should be doing everything we can to support american workers and their right to fight for better working conditions, fair pay, and the ability to care for their families. instead of attacking our
nation's labor unions, we should be celebrating them. for generations unions have helped america build the most robust middle class and a powerful economy second to no other nation. unions have not only helped workers take home more pay and have a safe place to work, they have also built communities many unions teach their members valuable skills and help them earn a secure retirement and have quality health care. big corporations are not trying to undermine unions because they are looking out for newly hired employees, they are fighting against unions because of what unions stand for, the right to collectively bargain for better pay, increased workplace safety, hard-earned retirement benefits, and quality health care. i ask my colleagues to take a moment to consider our history and the hardworking men and
women who built this great nation of ours many union members are our neighbors, our firefighters, our police officers, our teachers, and nurses, our brothers and sisters, and our moms and dads. they built our cars, our homes, our infrastructure. i urge all my colleagues to honor these men and women by opposing any and all efforts to expand harmful policies designed to undermine american workers. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. brown: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: thank you. i want to thank my colleagues for joining me on the floor today to stand for american workers. we organized a group of close to a dozen senators who have heartfelt and strong views about the dignity of work, about who
understand so well that workers are working harder and smarter but earn less and less money in spite of their hard work, in spite of their commitment. i've been joined on the floor already by senator schumer from new york, senator murray from washington state, senator duckworth from illinois, senator warren of massachusetts, senator casey from pennsylvania, senator peters of michigan. and speaking after i speak will be senator whitehouse of rhode island, senator merkley of oregon and senator durbin of illinois. i thank them for standing up for american workers. people in ohio, in my state and around the country, as i said, work harder. they work longer than ever but they have less and less to show for it. over the last 40 years g.d.p. has gone up, corporate profits have gone up, executive salaries have gone up all because of the productivity of american workers. g.d.p. goes up, corporate
profits go up, executive salaries explode upward. workers are more productive but workers have not shared in the economic growth they created. hard work just doesn't p pay off like it did a generation off. it's no coincidence that over that same time frame we've seen attack after attack after attack on the labor movement. corporate special interests have spent decades stripping workers of their freedom to organize for fair wages and for benefits. the case of the supreme court agreed to take up janus vs. afscme is another in an attempt to chip away. these are librarians, police officers, school nurses, firefighters, postal workers. they're not looking to get rich in these jobs. they're looking to be paid what they've earned the same as any other worker in this country. make no mistake, an attack on public sector unions is an attack on all unions.
an attack on unions is an attack on all workers whether they belong to a union or not. and it means all workers, whether you punch a time clock or whether you fill out a time sheet or swipe a badge, whether you make a salary or earn tips, whether you're on a payroll, whether you're a contract worker, whether you're a temp, whether you're working behind a desk, whether you're cutting hair, whether you're working on a factory floor, whether you're working behind a restaurant counter -- and i mean all workers -- the fact is all workers across this country, as profits go up, as g.d.p. goes up, as executive compensation goes up, as workers get more productive, all workers across this country are feeling squeezed. work doesn't pay of 0 the way it used to. we've seen what happens when workers have no power in the workplace. corporations view american workers increasingly -- corporations view american workers as a cost to be minimum niezed instead of -- minimized
instead of a valuable asset in which to asset. look at the news we got last month. when i mentioned it around the state of ohio, people's mouths dropped. the bank of america, merrill lynch, downgraded the fast-food restaurant chipotle because the company pays its works too much. remember what happened to american airlines. it announced it was doing a company wide pay increase and the stock market punished them by knocking their stock down. imagine that. when a company wants to do the right thing, wall street says no you're not going to do the right thing. wall street is saying give me, we want all the money. don't give any of this money to workers. workers making $10 or $12 or $15 an hour. think about that. wall street, merrill lynch didn't say they paid their workers too little. they paid their workers too much. that's why the labor movement matters. pope francis speaking about how
unions -- pope francis spoke about how unions perform in a central role for the common good. said the labor movement gives voice to those who have no voice. it unmasks the powerful who trample on the rights of the most vulnerable workers, who defend the cause of the foreigner, the least, the discarded. i just had the pleasure for the last few minutes in my office to speak with bishop murray, the youngstown, ohio. bishop murray and i were talking about the pope, about steel workers in youngstown, about the struggles of workers in wages, in layoffs and all the things that have happened to fae whims of globalization have buffetted the workers in that community. bishop murray, as does pope francis, understand what too many in this town don't, that workers feel invisible. entire communities feel invisible. they feel like they're getting used and abused and some other words that i can't say on the senate floor.
what exactly is the point of creating economic growth if workers don't share in it? if ordinary families still can't get ahead. everybody here loves to talk about tax reform and bringing the corporate rate down but nobody's talking about paying workers more. nobody's talking about giving workers more job security. nobody's talking about what we should be doing in creating, in working with companies and creating good jobs. my legislation, the patriot corporation act, says if corporations do the right thing, if they pay their workers well, if they pay benefits, if they do the kinds of things american corporations should do they get a lower tax rate because they've earned it. we have seem to have forgotten all work has dig anything. -- dignity. labor is the most common form of cooperation that humanity has generated in its history. what washington and wall street don't seem to understand is that workers drive our economy, not
corporations. you focus on the middle class, you grow the economy from the middle out. not cut taxes on the richest people and expect the money to trickle down into more money, more money in workers' pockets or more people hired. you grow the economy by treating workers well, by investing in workers. that's why we need unions to ensure that we spread economic growth to the people creating it, to the people working too many hours for too little pay. think about workers like stephanie in columbus. 25 years as a child care attendant for students with special needs. she wrote saying every day i wake up before the sun rises to prepare for three daily shifts, aiding students with special needs on their way to and from school. that's the person that, because she belongs to a union, that's the person that corporate america, that the right wing of the republican party wants to attack? that's the kind of person, stephanie in columbus, that they want to attack? she worries that cases like this, that undermine her union could severely limit our voice
on the job and hurt our ability to best serve the children we care so much about. she said unions provide a pathway to the middle class for all people. or think about about a janitor i met in cincinnati. i was speaking at a dinner. there was a table down front with seven -- seven middle-aged women of pretty diverse group of middle-aged women. there was one empty seat at the table and it was told to me by some others that this group of women were janitors, custodians in downtown cincinnati in southwest ohio. and they had signed -- these women had signed their first union contract with the downtown cincinnati business owners. there were 1,200 janitors working in these downtown businesses, in these big buildings downtown and they had signed their first union contract. i asked if i could sit at their table and they said yes. i said to the woman next to me,
what's it like to have a union? she said i'm 51 years old, and this is the first time -- this is the first time i'll have a one-week paid vacation in my life. think about that. we don't think -- i'm guessing that most of my colleagues think that, well, you know, people have paid vacations. people have paid sick leave. well, much of the country doesn't, number one. and number two, those that do often have that because they had a strong union. a union that negotiated sick leave pay for them, a union that negotiated vacation days for them, a union that negotiated family leave for them. and then when those workers at a company get it, the other nonunionized workers in companies get it, and then those companies compete with other companies. the fact is the union -- there's a bumper sticker that says if you enjoy your weekend, thank a labor union. i mean, labor unions brought to this country things like weekends and more leisure time and decent pay and all that.
that's why unions matter. that's why this decision in the supreme court matters. if the supreme court rules against afscme it will starve the union for resources they use to organize and grow and advocate for more workers. at the risk of being disrespectful, it would be nice if those nine members of the supreme court would follow the admonishment of the words of pope francis who admonished his parish priests to go out and smell like the flock. find out where people work, find out where people work, find out what people do, find out the living conditions of people, the same that abraham lincoln in the white house one day was talking to his staff. his staff said you have to stay here in the white house, you have to win the war, preserve the union. lincoln said no, i have to go out and get my public opinion baths. it would -- it could be important if the chief justice of the supreme court -- you know, ivy league education, went to the best colleges, the best
law schools, grew up in a wealthy family, has done very well as a professional, very smart man. if he would go out and smell like the flock. if he would go out and get his public opinion baths, maybe he would hear some stories that i have heard in my time in the senate, he would hear stories from people that talk about how important it is that stephanie has union protection or how important -- he probably has never really thought much about the fact that these janitors who have worked 30 years as janitors, 35 years some of those women, but never had a paid day off, never had a paid vacation, he might learn something from them and think a little differently about this. if the supreme court rules against afscme, it's the opposite of what we need. we should be making it easier, not harder for workers to come together to negotiate. that's why this week i am introducing legislation to strengthen the national labor relations act, to make it harder for employers to deny workers the freedom to collectively bargain, by playing games with
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, is the senate presently in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes. mr. whitehouse: may i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. the decision coming up in this united states supreme court, the janice decision that senator brown has just spoken about, is one that merits the attention of people who are concerned about the country and the court, and i'd like to make two points in my remarks. the first has to do with the very difficult to explain, or at least very difficult to comfortably explain pattern of
5-4 decisions of the united states supreme court in which the five consists entirely of the republican appointees. the supreme court makes a lot of decisions, of course, but there is something that is particularly interesting about the 5-4 decisions for the five republican appointees -- where the five republican appointees line up and roll the other appointees, and when you start looking at those decisions, there are some really significant patterns that emerge. the first pattern goes to issues in which the court is treading into the world of politics. now, bear in mind that when sandra day o'connor left the
court, it lost its only member who had ever run for office, and what justice o'connor left behind was the first court in the history of the united states that has exactly zero experience with elections and politics. there has never been as ignorant and green a court in the history history when it comes to politics, and yet there has rarely been a court so flagrantly eager to jump into politics and make very consequential decisions. and when you look at the 5-4 decisions, which i think are probably the bulk of those, each one aligns with the political interests of the republican party. each one. it's not one or two or three even.
it goes on and on and on. the oldest one in the series is probably veethv.jubilair in which the republicans said, you know what, this whole gerrymandering thing just too difficult for us. we're going to declare open season. there is going to be no judicial remedy. we can't figure out one, so don't have one. it's not just me saying that. the a.b.a. section on election law said in its volume, look, basically it's game over for court review of gerrymandering. what immediately happened after that was the republican party went to work with that green light signal and did the red map project, which created massive bulk gerrymandering through the battle ground states. this was not an easy plan because in some cases, they had to spend millions of dollars to win one