Congressman Keith Ellison

Representing the 5th District of Minnesota

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Rep. Keith Ellison, Rep. John Lewis Introduce Employee Empowerment Act

Oct 28, 2015
Press Release
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) introduced the Employee Empowerment Act of 2015, which increases labor protections for millions of Americans. 
 
During the past thirty-five years, the number of labor union members has dramatically decreased. During the same time, hard working Americans have seen their rights in the workplace systematically stripped away. 
 
The Employee Empowerment Act expands protections for employees who are discriminated against based on their labor organizing activities. The Act allows employees to pursue civil litigation against employers who discriminate against them for organizing and entitles victims to remedies like punitive and compensatory damages.  
 
“Millions of Americans are working harder than ever, yet still struggling just to get by,” said Rep. Ellison. “For decades, our policies have favored powerful corporations, instead of the hard working Americans who have lost the ability to negotiate for better wages and benefits, and even seen their jobs shipped overseas. We can reverse that trend, and the Employee Empowerment Act aims to do just that by protecting employees who wish to organize at their jobs and negotiate with their employers. It is time we support working families, and the EEA will help those who are simply looking to improve the lives of their families.”
 
“Workers deserve dignity and respect from their employers, “ said Rep. Lewis.  “After all, it is their labor and their service that corporate wealth is built upon.  What is wrong with  individual workers pooling their resources, banding together inside a union and speaking with one voice to represent their concerns?  In recent years the natural tendency of workers to organize and unite across mutual interests has been challenged by legislatures and some corporate policies.  This bill helps to protect the rights of workers to push for changes that offer them safety, security, and say in their future.  This bill would make it much more difficult for corporations that want to grow at their workers’ expense to whittle away their rights, no matter where they are headquartered in America.”
 
Additional information on the benefits of labor unions:
  • Union workers earn more, as a typical union worker earns 30% more than a non-union worker. 
    • Unionized African American workers make 36% more than their non-unionized counterparts.
    • Unionized Hispanic women make 46% more and unionized Hispanic men make 49% more.
  • Union workers have better benefits, as 69% percent of union members have access to guaranteed pensions compared with only 15 percent of non-union workers having access to guaranteed pensions. Union members are also more likely to have access to job-related education and training and to non-job-related education.