The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania.
(In this week’s address, Congressman Matt Cartwright discussed the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling and Democrats’ new Better Deal legislation to guarantee the right for public employees to organize, act concertedly and bargain collectively in states that currently do not afford these basic protections.)
This week, instead of honoring our American tradition of supporting labor unions, the Supreme Court’s ideological decision overturned a 40-year precedent. Forty years of the fabric of American law, torn up.
This decision enables free-riding by those who benefit from union agreements but don’t want to pay their fair share. […]
While Washington Republicans are rigging the rules against workers – in the Courts and the Congress – Democrats are fighting to deliver A Better Deal to working men and women. Now is not the time to turn back the clock on fair pay. Now is the time for us fight back.
That’s why yesterday afternoon, joined by Senator Hirono, I proudly introduced the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act. Our bill reaffirms the right of every public sector employee to join a union and bargain collectively.
(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)
“Hello, I’m Congressman Matt Cartwright.
“It was with regret that I read the Supreme Court’s decision this week in the case called Janus v AFSCME. This week, the U.S Supreme Court voted against every single hard-working American who fights every day just to make ends meet. Just to pay their bills. Just to support their families. Just to put away a little bit of money.
“This week’s decision undermines the freedom of people who keep us safe. The first responders, corrections officers, police officers, snow plow drivers and firefighters, teachers, sanitation workers – all public service workers, public servants – who go out there every single day for you, for me, for our kids.
“This 5-4 vote, this decision, undermines their very freedom to negotiate for decent pay and fair workplaces.
“I represent Northeastern Pennsylvania, a place where the right to bargain collectively is time-honored. Back in 1902, this man — John Mitchell — a labor organizer, came to the area, and what he found was miners working all hours in terrible conditions and for meager pay. He also found that the workers were unable to join together because of ethnic differences.
“And the mine owners played the ethnic differences against each other.
“Somehow, and to his everlasting credit, Mitchell was able to get the workers to look past their differences, and get them to go out on strike together. They struck for higher wages, and shorter days, and together they put their very lives on the line. For six months they struck – and workers were left with absolutely nothing at the end.
“After 163 days, the coal strike ended, and they went to arbitration.
“Since none of us were around then, I want to share with you the words of this man, Clarence Darrow, who spoke for the workers.
“He said this, ‘I have heard my clients, 147,000 working men who toil while other men grow rich, men who go down into the earth and face greater dangers then men who go out upon the sea, or out upon the land in battle, men who have little to hope for, little to think of excepting work. These are men… [who] demeaned themselves as nobly, as bravely, as loyally as any body of men who ever lived and suffered and died for the benefit of the generations that are yet to come.’
“’We are working for democracy,’ Darrow said, ‘For humanity, for the future, for the day that will come too late for us to see it or know it, or receive its benefits, but which will come, and will remember our struggles, our triumphs, our defeats, and the words we speak.’
“That strike was successful. Something that never would have happened without John Mitchell and the United Mine Workers.
“We revere John Mitchell in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and we honor his memory.
“But this week, instead of honoring our American tradition of supporting labor unions, the Supreme Court’s ideological decision overturned a 40-year precedent. Forty years of the fabric of American law, torn up.
“This decision enables free-riding by those who benefit from union agreements but don’t want to pay their fair share.
“Let me be clear: Labor unions give workers a collective voice to regular people to gain better wages, better health care, and a better future with a secure retirement. Strong public unions built the middle class in our country and shaped the life of every American by negotiating worker rights.
“But while Washington Republicans are rigging the rules against workers – in the Courts and the Congress – Democrats are fighting to deliver A Better Deal to working men and women. Now is not the time to turn back the clock on fair pay. Now is the time for us fight back.
“That’s why yesterday afternoon, joined by Senator Hirono, I proudly introduced the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act. Our bill reaffirms the right of every public sector employee to join a union and bargain collectively.
“In the face of new attacks on workers, Democrats are advancing new solutions – building on the bold commitments of our economic agenda for America: giving workers the freedom to negotiate a Better Deal.
“While the Supreme Court may have turned its back on American workers this week, Democrats in Congress have not. We stand with our union brothers & sisters.
“Again, the words of Clarence Darrow: ‘We are working for democracy, for humanity, for the future.’
“The future he was talking about is here, let’s work together, to preserve it together.”
Any bolding has been added.
Leader Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference on Thursday:
Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Press Conference
Leader Pelosi. Good morning. Thank you for being early. Because of votes on the Floor, we try to stay on schedule.
It’s been an eventful week. We’ve seen the dynamism within the Democratic Party. We’ve seen more destruction from the policies of the GOP.
The CBO found, in large part because of the GOP tax scam for the rich, the debt – the national debt will almost equal the size of the economy by 2028. And what do the Republicans respond to it? Slashing Medicare and Medicaid. They’re after your Medicare and Medicaid.
An American icon, Harley-Davidson, announced that they will ship even more production and jobs overseas, which the GOP tax scam gives them a tax benefit for doing. We have begun to see more stories of how the GOP tax scam is even raising taxes on churches, synagogues, and other nonprofits.
Last week, soybean futures hit a 9‑year low – soybean futures hit a 9‑year low. Pork producers, corn growers and wheat growers are reeling, too. That’s so far this week.
Right now, Republicans on the Floor are trying to force the Justice Department and the FBI to violate our national security and their longstanding procedures and turn over highly sensitive and classified information from the Special Counsel’s ongoing investigation – undermining our Justice System. Just when you think you’ve seen it all.
The GOP actions represent an assault on the rule of law. Republicans are seeking to undermine the ongoing investigation into an unprecedented foreign intervention in our elections to assist President Trump’s legal defense at the expense of our democracy.
Just think of it. They’re asking for documents of a highly sensitive classified nature to come from the Justice Department from an ongoing investigation.
Late yesterday, Leader [Chuck] Schumer, Ranking Member [Adam] Schiff, Senator [Mark] Warner and I wrote a letter to Director [Christopher] Wray and Deputy AG [Rod] Rosenstein to express our grave concerns about the Department of Justice and the FBI yielding to Republicans’ blatant, partisan and dangerous demands.
The Special Counsel investigation has already secured 5 guilty pleas and 20 indictments. Republicans must back off, and Mueller must be allowed to continue his investigation to follow the facts.
In the letter, we close by saying: ‘As the attacks on the special counsel intensify, it is imperative that you withstand pressure on DOJ and FBI to violate established procedures and norms. Your role in preserving the integrity of the special counsel’s investigation and, most importantly, the system of justice has become even more vital.’
And we go on to – and yesterday, Republican’s raw deal for the working man was accelerated by the actions of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s radical Janus decision will have drastic, destructive and longstanding impacts on hard-working Americans, their health, their wages, their retirement, and workplace conditions.
Earlier today, I stood with House and Senate Democrats and labor leaders to unveil the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act that will protect America’s workers and their freedom to join a union.
Here’s the thing: this Court – and I said this over in the Senate side earlier this morning. The Supreme Court has now labeled themselves the Supreme Corp., short for ‘corporation.’ With this decision to weaken the hand of workers, on top of their decision of Citizens United, exacerbating the hand of corporations and special interest money in our political process, they have reduced the leverage of workers in our country, reduced their leverage for, again, collective bargaining, negotiating for benefits, like health care, et cetera, but also working conditions, like safety in the workplace.
The trade union movement has been largely responsible for the development of the middle class in our country. In fact, the middle class has a union label on it. The Supreme Court’s decision does violence to the First Amendment, does violence to stare decisis in terms of other decisions that have been made that they have now thrown out the door. It does violence to our democracy, and it does violence to the benefits and job security of millions of America’s working families. Even if you don’t belong to a union, your family has benefited, if you’re a worker out there because they have raised the standard.
So, here we are. We have a better – there’s a raw deal. We have A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Pay, Better Future, and part of that is the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, which we are introducing today in our House. It is [Congressman] Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania; he will be introducing it. Senator [Mazie] Hirono in the Senate.
I’ve also disagreed with Justice Kennedy’s interpretation of the Constitution. However, I respect his service. He’s a Californian. We are proud of him. And the stakes of the vacancy he leaves – he’s leaving just 19 weeks before the election, could not be higher. Make no mistake: Republicans now have the opportunity to erase a generation of progress for women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, civil rights, workers’ rights and health care.
As it happens, today marks the sixth year – six years since the Supreme Court upheld the ACA as the law of the land. With the chance to rewrite the Court, Republicans could even succeed in their vicious lawsuit to strike down lifesaving protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Some of you were with us yesterday and heard from Americans with pre-existing conditions who could be condemned because of illnesses or injuries. They did nothing – they’d rather do without, right? 120, 130 – 125, 130 million Americans have pre-existing conditions. That is what is at stake. It started with the tax scam, which eliminated the individual mandate, which they’re using as their justification to eliminate the benefit of pre-existing conditions. This came from some of the states. The Trump Administration has said, not only would they not defend the law of the land, they support doing away with [protections for] pre-existing conditions.
So understand that all of these policy things that relate to the Court or legislation have an impact on your life, especially if you have a pre-existing condition in this court case.
America’s health care will never be safe in Republican control. And it’s not just about health care. It’s about the good health of America. So we have fights to make. Republicans attack people with – they’re attacking people with pre-existing conditions. They’re protecting the border by putting children in cages. Is this a statement of values of the greatest country that ever existed in the history of world? I don’t think so.
Any questions? Yes, sir.
Press questioning followed (see transcript)
Questions included the politics of governing from a big tent coalition in light of the NY-14 race:
Q: How should the DCCC back candidates who aren’t willing to support the leadership?
Leader Pelosi. We just want to win. That’s the simplest answer of all. When I’m not in the Capitol and I’m someplace else, I’m raising money to elect those very people. Everything is at stake in our country. People all see the urgency of it. They want to take responsibility for it. That gives us an opportunity to win. So I just say: Just win, baby. So that has – that has nothing to do with any decisions made by the DCCC.
Q: How do you go forward in terms of policy?
Leader Pelosi. Thank you. I appreciate that question, but we’re so immersed in the substance of why we’re here that it makes politics seem so small because this is not about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about the United States of America. The character of our country is at stake. The future of our children is at stake, and that takes us to the election.
And we feel very proud – when people said to me, after the march a year and a half ago, ‘How are we going to use all of that energy?’ I said, it’s not a question of how we will use it. It’s a question about how they will use us.
I’m a grassroots person. I was the chair of our party in California before I came to Congress, and that energy coming from the grassroots is what is going to win the election. It has to be fueled, though, by inspiration, and we think that our Better Deal, Better Jobs, Better Pay, Better Future has been a template for us to road test, to listen to Members, and our message is an economic message.
It’s about jobs. It will be – and our three leaders on the communication team are in the process of putting together our closing argument on this, but it’s about build, build, build. Build the infrastructure of America, across America. Build not only surface transportation and the rest, but build broadband, build water systems, build schools, and the rest, build, and do so in a way that is fiscally sound.
And the next thing is that we have to build the human infrastructure, invest in education and health care and research, to keep America – our apprenticeship programs and the rest – to keep our entrepreneurial spirit there to fuel these jobs for the 21st century and build our civility, build our democracy, reduce the role of money in politics, take us to a place where these voices have a stronger voice and remove some of the cynicism that is there, skepticism about whether their voice matters.
As you see – as you see in these races, they’re all close. A few hundred votes here or there in terms of Yvette Clarke’s race, in terms of Connor Lamb’s race. They were under 1,000 votes each. So everybody should know that their voice counts.
Every district is its own entity. Every Member is an independent representative of his or her district. Joe Crowley’s district, now Alexandria’s district, and my district are very similar, but many of the districts across our country are focused in a different way, and we respect that.
Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined her fellow House Democrats and people with pre-existing conditions for a press event to condemn Republicans’ latest attacks on protections for people with pre-existing conditions, building up to the 6th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act.
Leader Pelosi: I want to acknowledge so many of the leadership, the groups that were so important in passing the Affordable Care Act and saving the Affordable Care Act. It’s important to note that many of these organizations participated, over ten thousand events across the country when the Republicans introduced their Trumpcare bill. Ten thousand to defeat that.
Unfortunately, the Republicans went on in the tax bill, a bill to give – a tax scam to give tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country. They eliminated the individual mandate and that is their justification for going to court to say that that shouldn’t exist. They want to eliminate the pre-existing conditions benefits. […]
Tomorrow marks the six year anniversary, six years since the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act as the law of the land, ensuring a future of affordable, quality care for millions of Americans. Not only expanding access to health care, but improving the benefits for over 125 million families.
Yet, for six years, Republicans have waged a cruel, fevered campaign to raise families’ health cost, gut their coverage and sabotage their care. This is wrong. This is wrong.
After the American people rose up, as I said ten thousand events. Voices, voices of our Little Lobbyists, voices of our patient groups and the rest. After the American people rose up to defeat the monstrosity of Trumpcare, Republicans are now trying to revive the most brutal provision once more – this time, in the courts. They are using a lawsuit to drag us back to the dark days of discrimination against the 130 million Americans who have a pre-existing medical condition.
More at the link.
Democrats and Union Leaders Brief Reporters on Collective Bargaining Legislation
(“Democratic members of Congress and union leaders held a press conference at the U.S. Capitol to discuss mandatory union fees following the 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME that found that states cannot require government workers to pay union fees, saying such requirements violate the First Amendment. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called the decision “despicable,” while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the decision “does violence to the First Amendment” and would “diminish the voices of workers.” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) spoke about a bill they were introducing to help streamline the collection of union dues. AFSCME President Lee Saunders and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also spoke about the decision.”)
Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined House and Senate Democrats and labor leaders to announce a major legislative proposal to respond to the Janus decision and guarantee the right for public employees to organize, act concertedly and bargain collectively in states that currently do not afford these basic protections.
Leader Pelosi: Thank you very much Mr. Leader [Chuck Schumer] for your very strong statement. Thank you Senator [Mazie] Hirono for bringing us together here this morning. It’s an honor to be with our champions for working families in our country, President [Richard] Trumka and President [Lee] Saunders and our wonderful representative at the SEIU, Monika Roberts.
With this decision that it announced yesterday, the Supreme Court became the Supreme Corp., short for ‘corporation’. They are handmaidens of corporate America. They are there to undermine workers in our country.
They did so in trying to supplicate the voices giving corporations unlimited access to dark, special interest money in the Citizens United decision. And, now, yesterday they did violence to our democracy by trying to diminish the voices of working people. Amplify the voices of corporate, silent special interest money. Diminish the voices of workers. That’s not the American way.
Their decision does violence to the First Amendment, cheapening it and using it, stretching it as a rationale for this decision. It does violence to stare decisis, abandoning a decision in this respect. And that endangers so many decisions that have already taken place in the court. And what does that do? It hurts America’s working families.
More at the link.