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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, just to name a few. Taking care of our country’s workers is of the utmost importance because they are the backbone of our economy. That’s why I am fighting against repeated attacks on workers’ 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 way to express concerns about their safety, security, pay, benefits, and about the best practices to get the work done. In Washington, I am fighting to protect the right to organize, expand paid sick leave, combat discriminatory workplace practices, and keep workers safe. 

Minimum Wage

The federal minimum wage has stagnated at $7.25 per hour since 2009, resulting in millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet despite having a full-time job. No one who works hard every day and plays by the rules should live in poverty.  We should make sure that all workers can earn a living wage by raising the minimum wage. An increase in wages means an increase in consumer power that results in economic growth for our entire country. When workers have more money to spend, they tend to spend it in their communities. I have been so proud to see both Los Angeles 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 as well.

In addition, 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 against in the workplace based on their labor union association. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, a comprehensive bill to protect workers’ rights to join unions and collectively bargain.

Protecting the Right to Organize

In 2018, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to public sector unions in the case Janus v. AFSCME by undermining their rights to collectively bargain on behalf of employees. But public sector unions improve working conditions for public servants, and they improve public services. That’s why I am a cosponsor of the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, which protects the rights of state and local government employees to collectively bargain.

Strenghtening Workers' Rights

We must also end discrimination in the workplace. Every worker in America should be able to earn a living free from discrimination based on race, religion, age, national origin, or sexual orientation. In addition, immigrant workers should not be retaliated against if they report an unfair labor practice. That is why I have introduced the Protect Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation (POWER) Act to ensure that workers who report such practices are able to maintain legal status while the claim is being investigated. 

In addition, workers who labor in hot conditions, risking illness or death from heat stress, should receive required water, shade, and rest periods. I introduced the Asuncion Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act, named for a worker who died a preventable death from heat stroke after working for 10 hours straight in 105-degree temperatures. This legislation builds on legislation that I introduced as a member of the California Assembly that made California that first state in the nation to require paid shade and water breaks for those who work outside. It is time for a federal heat stress standard. 

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. 

Finally, 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 due to an illness.  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. I am pushing for the legislation to provide workers with up to 12 weeks of income when they take time for their own health conditions, including pregnancy and childbirth recovery.

More on Worker Rights and Labor

September 30, 2021 Press Release

Washington, DC - Today, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced new guidelines regarding the Biden Administration’s immigration enforcement priorities. The new priorities state that just being a “removable noncitizen” is no longer sufficient basis for deportation action. It also restores prosecutorial discretion for an individual’s immigration case, and includes new mitigating factors such as one’s age, length of stay, and impact of removal on one’s family.

September 20, 2021 Press Release

Washington, DC — Today, the Department of Labor announced a new initiative to protect workers from the risk of heat stress. Due to climate change, more workers, both indoors and outdoors, are subject to dangerously high temperatures, including in parts of the country where heat stress has not typically been a problem and therefore not something many employers are prepared for. As a result, hundreds have died and thousands injured in recent years. That is why Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) introduced H.R.

August 6, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), joined by Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott (VA-03), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), and Rep. Alma Adams (NC-12), sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) urging them to adopt federal heat standards for workers. The Congressmembers submitted a letter to Labor Secretary Walsh outlining the dangers extreme heat poses to blue-collar workers in various industries.

March 26, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, at the start of National Farmworkers Week (March 25-31), Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), and Alma Adams (D-NC), introduced legislation to ensure the safety and health of workers who are exposed to dangerous heat conditions in the workplace. The bill, the Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act, is named in honor of Asunción Valdivia who died in 2004 after picking grapes for ten hours straight in 105-degree temperatures. Mr.

February 27, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, the House of Representatives passed the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion economic recovery package to support families, workers, businesses, and health care providers through the Coronavirus crisis. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), who helped craft this bill as a member of the House Small Business, Ways and Means, and Budget Committees, issued the following statement:

December 21, 2020 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House of Representatives passed HR. 133, an omnibus bill to fund the government through fiscal year 2021 and provide additional COVID-19 relief to the country. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) voted for the bill and issued the following statement:

April 29, 2020 Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC — On Tuesday, 105 House Democrats, led by House Small Business Subcommittee on Oversight Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) and Rep. Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), sent a letter to House Democratic and Republican leadership urging that labor unions be made eligible to access to recovery funds made possible under the CARES Act, including the Paycheck Protection Program.

December 17, 2019 Press Release

Washington, DC — Today, the House of Representatives voted on two packages of spending bills to keep the government open through fiscal year 2020 at levels higher than current funding and higher than the President’s budget request. The first package, under H.R.

December 11, 2019 Press Release

Washington, DC — The House of Representatives today passed H.R. 5038, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019. The bill will provide legal status and a pathway to citizenship for qualified agricultural workers. It also improves the availability of farmworker housing ensures health and safety protections for workers, including heat stress protection. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) issued the following statement: