Worker Rights and Labor
Congresswoman Judy Chu with members of the Service Employees International Union.
Our country is built on the sweat of our construction workers, farmers, nurses, cooks and retail cashiers. We need to take care of our country’s workers because they are the backbone of our economy. That’s why I am fighting against attacks on worker rights, pensions and the freedom to organize.
I support working with labor to solve problems, build stronger workplaces and give working families a real voice. Unions give workers a voice to express concerns about their safety, security, pay, benefits, and about the best ways to get the work done. Workers deserve a voice in the workplace and we cannot silence hardworking Americans. In Washington, I am fighting to protect the right to organize, expand paid sick leave and keep workers safe.
The federal minimum wage has stagnated at $7.25 per hour since 2009, resulting in millions of Americans struggling despite having a full-time job. No worker who works hard every day and plays by the rules should live in poverty. In addition, an increase in minimum wage means an increase in consumer power that results in economic growth for our entire country. Because when workers have more money to spend, they tend to spend it in their communities, I am so proud to see both LA County and the City of Pasadena taking steps to increase the minimum wage. As a member of Congress, I am working to make that happen on the federal level.
That’s why I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the Pay Workers a Living Wage Act (H.R. 3164) to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour by 2020. After 2020, the minimum wage will be indexed to the median hourly wage. The tipped minimum wage would be gradually eliminated. This legislation will benefit millions of Americans, helping them put food on their tables and achieve the American Dream.
On top of struggling to make a decent living on minimum wage, increasingly workers are only able to find part-time work where they face uncertain work schedules making it extremely difficult to make ends meet. That’s why I cosponsored the Schedules that Work Act (H.R. 3071) which aims to give workers a voice at work so they can negotiate for work schedules that work for them and their families. The bill includes provisions that protect employees from retaliation for requesting a more flexible or stable schedule and creates a process for employers to consider request, give sufficient notice of scheduling changes, and requires employers to compensate workers scheduled to work non-consecutive shifts in the same day.
Corporate America is denying workers the freedom to form unions. Taking away workers’ rights has set off a long-term downward, spiral of lower wages and fewer benefits. Workers with good jobs are trying to hold on to a middle class standard of living, even as more and more people suffer lower wages, less health care and no retirement security. Good jobs are vanishing and the American Dream is slipping out of reach.
All workers should have the freedom to decide for themselves whether to form unions to bargain for a better life and should not be penalized because of it. I have consistently supported legislation that enhances protections for workers that are discriminated in the workplace based on their labor union association.
Every worker in America should be able to earn a living free from discrimination based on race, religion, age, national origin, or sexual orientation.
The first major piece of legislation that President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This law resets the statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit each time a new discriminatory paycheck is issued, thereby making it easier for a worker to challenge pay discrimination even if they find out about the pay disparity many years later. This law restores an employee’s right to challenge pay discrimination.
I have also fought hard to extend federal employment discrimination law to protect workers based on sexual orientation and have strongly supported measures in Congress to prohibit discrimination on the basis of perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. This year, Republicans in Congress tried to attach amendments to must-pass spending bills that would allow federal contractors to openly discriminate against an individual based on their sexual orientation. When this provision initially passed, I stood together with Republican and Democratic colleagues alike to demand that everyone should be treated equally. Ultimately, I am proud to say that we passed an amendment to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2017 that would prevent discrimination against LGBT individuals by a vote of 223-195.
At a time when workers and their families are still struggling to get by, no one can risk missing a paycheck or losing a job. Many workers do not have paid leave they can use to take time off work when they are sick, or when they need to stay home to take care of a sick child or elderly relative. Too many workers face this fear when they or someone in their family is sick or needs medical care. For the 40 million Americans who have no access to paid sick days, an everyday illness brings impossible choices between the jobs they need and the families they love. Workers who can’t afford to stay home are forced to put their families – and the public's health – at risk.
Low-wage workers are hit hardest by the lack of a minimum paid leave standard. For example, while 61 percent of workers in the private sector have access to paid sick leave, only 30 percent of low-wage workers have access to paid sick leave. Across all paid leave categories, (holidays, sick leave, vacation, personal, and family leave) workers in the lowest 25 percent of wage earners are two to four times less likely to have access to any form of paid leave compared with workers in the highest paid 25 percent.
I am pushing for the passage of the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act (H.R. 1439) to provide workers with up to 12 weeks of partial income when they take time for their own serious health condition, including pregnancy and childbirth recovery. Even more, this bill would cover workers in all companies, no matter their size. Younger, part-time, lower-wage and contingent workers would be eligible for benefits. American workers should not have to choose between a paycheck and caring for a family member.
More on Worker Rights and Labor
Pasadena, CA – Today, Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) hosted a Job Hunters Boot Camp at Grapevine Arbor Park in San Gabriel, CA. The Boot Camp was attended by over 100 job seekers who received resources, advice, and employment opportunities from 50 employers and volunteer groups. Attendees were able to get resume help, speak with employers, apply for jobs, and attend workshops on branding, growing a business, and more. There was also a specialized workshop for veterans entering the workforce. Rep. Chu released the following statement:
Accomplishments During the 114th Congress (2014-2016)
Bringing more federal resources to the San Gabriel Valley is one of my top priorities. This is why I partner with federal agencies to ensure that we have access to federal programs and funding that could benefit our region. I am proud to have worked with these agencies and the President’s Administration on the following initiatives.