07.13.17

Murray Opening Remarks Nomination Hearing for Deputy Secretary of Labor and Members of the NLRB

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Hearing

 

Nomination Hearing for Deputy Secretary of Labor and Members of the National Labor Relations Board

 

Senator Murray’s Remarks as prepared for delivery:

 

Thank you, Chairman Alexander, and I want to thank Mr. Emanuel, Mr. Kaplan, and Mr. Pizzella for being here.

 

Before we begin, I would like to once again object to Chairman Alexander’s unwillingness to hold a hearing on his Party’s Trumpcare plan.

 

We’ve heard reports that Republicans are considering a variety of ideas, but all yield the same results—higher costs for working families, a loss of coverage for tens of millions, and reverting back to the days when women could be discriminated against by insurance companies.

 

I will remind the Chairman, if Republican leaders abandon their ideological commitment to undermining the health care system and delivering massive tax breaks to corporations and billionaires on the backs of patients and families…

 

Democrats are willing and ready to work with you to continue fixing our health care system in ways that make health care more affordable and workable for the people we all serve.

 

I’d first like to address the rushed and unprecedented nature of this hearing.

 

The Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board are vastly different agencies—and operate independently of each other.

 

So I am disappointed that Chairman Alexander ignored my requests for separate hearings on these extremely important positions.

 

Instead, Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Kaplan’s nominations are being jammed through this committee at an unprecedented speed—while other less controversial nominees continue to await a hearing.

 

With these appointments, I’m very concerned President Trump is once again breaking his campaign promises of putting workers first—and ignoring the core mission of the NLRB.

 

The National Labor Relations Act gives workers the right to join together and participate in collective bargaining…

 

It guarantees workers a voice, allowing them to speak up for fair wages and benefits—and for safe working conditions.

 

Strong unions created the middle class—and for many working families in the 20th century, a good union job, or the right to collective bargaining, helped them move up the economic ladder.

 

But—over the past few decades, our economy has favored corporations and those at the top…

 

And we’ve seen a decline in unions and union membership across the country…

 

And with that, the middle class has shrunk—all while the rich got richer, leaving many working families feeling forgotten.

 

So it is critical, now more than ever, that we are doing everything we can to ensure that every worker is given a fair shot.

 

But Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Kaplan, as I look at both of your records, I see patterns of anti-worker, anti-union, even anti-NLRB measures.

 

Mr. Emanuel, you have spent decades advocating for corporations and special interests—by taking on workers and their efforts to unionize.

 

I have strong reservations about your ability to protect the workers you have spent you entire career fighting against.

 

Mr. Kaplan—during your time as a labor staffer the House of Representatives, you prepared and staffed hearings where your employers railed against the NLRB and the agency’s core mission.

 

In fact, I could not find one example of you supporting the rights of workers and unions.

 

And—your lack of legal experience practicing before the NLRB is extremely concerning.

 

I hope you are both prepared to explain how you believe your careers of fighting against workers’ rights qualifies you to carry out the NLRB’s main goal—to promote collective bargaining and stand up for workers.

 

Now while the Department of Labor’s goals are broader—its main objective is the same—to stand up for workers.

 

DOL makes sure that workers’ rights, safety, and livelihoods are protected, and seeks to expand economic opportunity to more workers and families across the country.

 

And yet, since day one, President Trump has rolled back worker protections and promoted policies that make it harder for working families to be financially secure.

 

He even wants to slash the Department of Labor’s budget by 20 percent.

 

So Mr. Pizzella, I am interested in hearing whether you agree that rolling back worker protections, prioritizing corporate special interests and gutting DOL is in the best interest of workers.

 

I look forward to all three of your testimonies and responses on these and many other issues.

 

Despite President Trump’s consistent pattern of putting corporations and those at the top above working families, I believe the NLRB and Department of Labor should be advocating for working families and the middle class—and I will continue to evaluate nominees for both the NLRB and the Department with that goal in mind.