03.06.17

Murray, Senate Dems Blast GOP for Overturning Safeguards for Millions of Workers, Taxpayers, Businesses

Led by Murray, Senate Dems took to Senate floor to speak against Republican-led vote to eliminate “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” rule

 

“Fair pay” rule is critical step to safeguard workers, taxpayers, and level playing field for businesses—LINK  

 

Workers, advocates, unions all support rule—ACLU: “It’s mind-boggling that we’re even having this fight”—LINK

 

Murray called out Republicans for action that will “hurt workers, hurt the middle class, and hurt the economy”

 

Murray: “Let’s be very clear —in rolling back these protections, President Trump and his party are yet again breaking their campaign promise to put workers first”

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Led by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today Senate Democrats took to the Senate floor to speak out against the Republican-led vote to eliminate the ‘Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” rule. Senate Democrats unanimously voted against overturning the “fair pay” rule—the final vote was: 49-48.

 

Pushed by Senate Democrats and finalized by the Obama Administration, the “fair pay” rule would make sure government agencies consider an employer’s record of providing their workers with a safe workplace and paying workers the money they have rightly earned before granting and renewing federal contracts.

 

“For too long, the government has awarded billions of taxpayer dollars to companies that rob workers of their paychecks and fail to maintain safe working conditions. This rule helps right that wrong,” said Senator Murray in her floor speech. “Under this rule, when a company applies for a federal contract, they will need to be upfront about their safety, health, and labor violations over the past three years. That way, government agencies can consider an employer’s record of providing workers with a safe workplace and paying workers what they have earned—before granting or renewing federal contracts.”

 

In 2013, the Senate HELP Committee conducted an investigation which found that nearly 30 percent of the companies that received the most severe penalties for worker safety and wage law violations were federal contractors. In her speech, Murray said that American taxpayers should have the basic guarantee that their dollars are going to responsible contractors.  

 

“When workers arrive on the job, they deserve to know that they will be treated fairly; they will be provided with safe and healthy workplaces; their right to collective bargaining will be respected; and that they will be paid all of the wages they have rightly earned. And businesses that contract with the government should set an example when it comes to each of these concerns—and taxpayer dollars should only go to businesses that respect these fundamental worker protections.”

 

In overturning these protections, Murray said President Trump and Republicans are again “breaking their campaign promise to put workers first” and hurting workers, the middle class, and the economy.

 

“As I’ve said time and again, families nationwide are sending a very clear message—at marches, in phone calls and letters, online and in their communities—they expect and are demanding that their representatives are truly committed to working for them.  I, for one, am committed to standing with them, I know my colleagues are committed, and we are prepared to fight back.”

 

Full remarks by Senate Murray, as prepared for delivery:

 

Thank you, M. President. And thank you to all of my colleagues who will be joining me on the floor today.

 

M. President, when President Trump was running for office, he claimed that he was going to be a President who fought for the middle class.

 

He made a promise—that he wasn’t going to do what most Republicans have done in recent years—and simply work for millionaires and billionaires. But that he was going to be different. And that he would be someone workers could count on.

 

Well, M. President, we are just over a month into this Presidency, and it couldn’t be clearer: President Trump is breaking his promises. Whether it’s his cabinet picks—billionaires, Wall Street bankers, and corporate CEOs; his rush to destroy our health care system and create chaos for families across the country; or this—what Republicans have chosen to bring to the floor today—another effort that would hurt workers, hurt the middle class, and hurt the economy.

 

Here’s what I think we should be doing in Congress, M. President, we should be working on ways to boost economic security for more working families, and we should be helping our economy grow in the way that we know is strongest—from the middle out, not the top down.

 

Now, we’ve made important progress over the last several years, but I think all of us—on either side of the aisle—would agree that there is much more work left to do.  

 

That’s certainly what has been clear to me, M. President, as I’ve traveled across my home state of Washington listening and meeting with workers and their families. Families are working hard. They’re meeting their responsibilities. But far too many are still unable to get ahead.

 

Again, that’s what should be the topic of discussion today—how to support and empower more workers, but instead, M. President, we are here today because President Trump and my Republican colleagues either simply aren’t getting the message, or are too busy focusing on what’s best for folks already at the top.

 

Because today, Republicans are poised to roll back a rule which helps protect workers from wage theft, discrimination, unsafe workplaces, and more.

 

M. President, I’d like to take just a few moments to make very clear what is at stake for millions of working families if Republicans roll back this rule.  

 

Each year, far too many workers are deprived of overtime wages, denied basic workplace protections, endure illegal discrimination, and face unwarranted health and safety risks.

 

This is clearly unacceptable—and it has to end. And so, last year, Democrats, working with the previous administration, pushed to finalize what’s known as the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule.

 

M. President, for too long, the government has awarded billions of taxpayer dollars to companies that rob workers of their paychecks and fail to maintain safe working conditions. 

 

This rule helps right that wrong. Under this rule, when a company applies for a federal contract, they will need to be upfront about their safety, health, and labor violations over the past three years.

 

That way, government agencies can consider an employer’s record of providing workers with a safe workplace and paying workers what they have earned—before granting or renewing federal contracts.

 

To be clear, this doesn’t prevent companies from winning federal contracts, it doesn’t single out companies, it doesn’t deny companies the right to be heard—it improves transparency and cooperation, so government agencies are aware of companies’ violations and can work with them to make sure they come into compliance with essential labor laws.

 

Again, the emphasis here is not on punishment, but on helping bring more and more companies into compliance with the law, and zeroing in on violations that are, and I quote from the rule: “serious, willful, repeated, or pervasive.”

 

M. President, not only are these measures common sense, but they would have major benefits for workers, businesses, and taxpayers.

 

For one, it would help hold the worst violators accountable. American taxpayers should have the basic guarantee that their dollars are going to responsible contractors—who will not steal from their workers or expose workers to safety hazards. 

 

It would help protect basic worker rights and that in turn will help expand economic security for more working families. And it would also help level the playing field for businesses that follow the law.

 

I think we can all agree that businesses shouldn’t have to compete with bad actors that cut corners and put their workers’ safety at risk or cheat workers on their paychecks.

 

So, M. President, all of this, frankly, is pretty simple. When workers arrive on the job, they deserve to know that they will be treated fairly; they will be provided with safe and healthy workplaces; their right to collective bargaining will be respected; and that they will be paid all of the wages they have rightly earned.

 

And businesses that contract with the government should set an example when it comes to each of these concerns—and taxpayer dollars should only go to businesses that respect these fundamental worker protections.

 

M. President, as I’ve said time and again, families nationwide are sending a very clear message—at marches, in phone calls and letters, online and in their communities—they expect and are demanding that their representatives are truly committed to working for them.

 

I, for one, am committed to standing with them, I know my colleagues are committed, and we are prepared to fight back.

 

Again, M. President, let’s be very clear —in rolling back these protections, President Trump and his party are yet again breaking their campaign promises to put workers first.  

 

Workers will be hurt. Wages will go down. Rights will be undermined. And lives will be put at risk.

 

I urge my Republican colleagues to drop this deeply harmful effort, reverse course, and stand with working families once and for all.   

 

Thank you, M. President, and I yield the floor.

 

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