The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Nathan White (202)225-5871

Kucinich Challenges 'Right to Work for Less'

Attack on Unions is an Attack on All Workers


Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today stood up strongly in the face of the full scale attack on unions and workers that is taking place in Congress and across the country. Speaking at a hearing of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Kucinich reminded his colleagues that unions are responsible for a long list of workplace rights that all Americans benefit from. He also quoted a pledge from then-candidate Ronald Reagan to listen to organized labor.

"Let me tell you about ways in which unions have improved workers lives. A constituent just sent this to me and I thought it was important enough to read it: weekends; breaks at work, including lunch breaks; paid vacation; sick leave; Social Security; minimum wage; Civil Rights Act/Title VII, which prohibits employer discrimination; 8-hour work day; overtime pay; child labor laws; Occupational Safety & Health Act; 40-hour work week; Worker's Compensation; Unemployment Insurance; pensions; workplace safety standards and regulations; employer health care insurance; collective bargaining rights for employees; wrongful termination laws; age discrimination; Employment Act of 1967; whistleblower protection laws; Employee Polygraph Protection Act; Veteran's Employment and Training Services; compensation increases and evaluations; raises; sexual harassment laws; Americans With Disabilities Act; holiday pay; employer dental, life, and vision insurance; privacy rights; pregnancy and parental leave; military leave; the right to strike; public education for children; Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011; and laws ending sweatshops in the United States.

"This is a partial list. We are talking about a movement whose basis is social and economic justice. I don't understand what is going on in this country, except that it is an effort-- they call it "Right to Work"--it's about an effort to create a "Right to Work for Less." A "Right to Less Benefits."

"Americans might have different opinions about unions, but I want to quote from a Labor Day speech; 'On this day, dedicated to American working men and women, may I tell you the vision I have of a new administration and of a new Congress, filled with new members dedicated to the values we honor today? Beginning in January ... American workers will once again be heeded. Their needs and values will be acted upon in Washington. I will consult with representatives of organized labor on those matters concerning the welfare of the working people of this nation... As president of my union -- the Screen Actors Guild -- I spent many hours with the late George Meany, whose love of this country and whose belief in a strong defense against all totalitarians is one of labor's greatest legacies.' It goes on to say, 'Well, I pledge to you in [George Meany's] memory that the voice of the American worker will once again be heeded in Washington and that the climate of fear that he spoke of will no longer threaten workers and their families.'

"I'd like unanimous consent to submit into the record the words of President Ronald Wilson Reagan."

Dennis Kucinich is an American politician. A U.S. Representative from Ohio from 1997 to 2013, he was also a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States in 2004 and 2008.