FOCUSING ON WORKING FAMILIES
Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Congressional Progressive caucus for holding this Special Order on the Working Families Agenda.
Since the Republicans took over the House in January 2011, they have held hearing after hearing to make it harder for workers to form a union, they have attempted over 60 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they have been giving tax cuts to the wealthy, and all that time they have been wasting millions of dollars on the Benghazi Committee.
Enough is enough. The American people deserve better. We know that families across America are struggling to make ends meet. Today I am calling on my colleagues across the aisle to get to work on the responsible solutions that hardworking Americans want and need, solutions that would boost wages, help workers achieve a better balance between work and family, and level the playing field so all workers can get a fair shot at success. This is the Working Families Agenda.
This agenda would help workers like India Ford, who is from my district. During the Working Families Day of Action yesterday, she spoke to Members about how she worked nights and weekends for nearly a dozen years in the restaurant industry. As a single mom, this meant not being home for her child to help her with her homework, missing PTA meetings, and not being able to spend time with her daughter before she went to bed.
Finally, she got a new job at a new restaurant with a manager who offered to give her a schedule that worked for her family. And do you know what she did? She selected the lunch shift. This simple change was profound because now she is at home with her daughter at night. She is able to attend school events and able to help with homework.
But basic protections like fair schedules and paid sick leaves shouldn't depend on winning the boss lottery. They should be fundamental rights of every American.
Today workers are more productive than ever, but it has been a long time since most people got a raise. We need to pass legislation to raise the minimum wage. We also need to improve the National Labor Relations Act because, when workers try to organize and form a union to negotiate for a fair share, more than one-third of the time somebody gets fired during the organizational drive.
It is time to strengthen the National Labor Relations Act so that employers might think twice before they retaliate. That is what the Workplace Action for a Growing Economy, or the WAGE Act, would do.
We need to help workers better balance work and family. We need Federal paid sick days and paid family and medical leave laws, which 80 percent of the public supports. Workers need flexible schedules, schedules that work.
It is also past time that we level the playing field so that all working families have a fair shot. It is shameful that, in 2015, discrimination still shuts many workers out of good-paying jobs.
No family should live in fear of a breadwinner being fired for being gay, but Federal law still does not provide explicit workplace protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Working people deserve more than just a paycheck. They deserve a decent life. It is time to rewrite the rules to make the economy work for everybody.
Democrats stand ready to take up responsible solutions, like the Working Families Agenda, to boost wages, help workers balance family and work, and level the playing field by eliminating discrimination so that everybody has a fair shot.
In honor of National Work and Family Month, on Thursday, we will introduce a resolution calling on Congress to hold hearings and votes on the Working Families Agenda.
We already have 90 cosponsors on the resolution, and we won't stop there. For as long as it takes, we will continue to call on our colleagues across the aisle to take up the responsible policies that will help people make a better life for themselves and their families.
Again, I want to thank Mrs. Watson Coleman and the Congressional Progressive Caucus for coordinating this Special Order hour and thank all of my colleagues in the Democratic Caucus who are standing up for working families.