Joe Biden on Jobs
Vice President; previously Democratic Senator (DE)
During his impassioned address, Biden credited labor unions for building the middle class, and thus "building the United States as we know it. If the middle class is doing fine, everybody does fine," he said. "The wealthy get very wealthy, and the poor have a way up."
Tonight, I've asked Vice President Biden to lead an across-the-board reform of America's training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now. That means more on-the-job training, and more apprenticeships that set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life. It means connecting companies to community colleges that can help design training to fill their specific needs. And if Congress wants to help, you can concentrate funding on proven programs that connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.
BIDEN: I don't know how long it will take. We can and we will get it under 6%. Let's look at where we were when we came to office. The economy was in free fall. The Great Recession hit. Nine million people lost their job, $1.6 trillion in wealth lost in equity in your homes & in retirement accounts. We knew we had to act for the middle class. We immediately went out and rescued General Motors. Romney said, no, let Detroit go bankrupt. We moved in and helped people refinance their homes. Governor Romney said, no, let foreclosures hit the bottom. But it shouldn't be surprising for a guy who says 47% of the American people are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives. [Rep. Ryan] recently said 30% of the American people are takers. These people are my mom and dad, the people I grew up with, my neighbors. They pay more effective tax than Governor Romney pays in his federal income tax
Simply stated, we're about promoting the private sector, they're about protecting the privileged sector. We are for a fair shot and a fair shake. They're about no rules, no risks, and no accountability.
There's no clearer example of these two different views of the economy than how we reacted to the crisis in the automobile industry. It's sort of a cautionary tale of how they would run the government again and the economy again if given a chance.
Denying two million Americans unemployment insurance will wind up costing us more jobs. It just isn't smart. And, cutting unemployment insurance is not only not smart, it's not right either. It would mean telling millions of our neighbors who are out of work today through no fault of their own, that they're on their own.
We all know someone who's hit a rough patch. When that happens in America, we help him get back up on his feet. That's who we are. That's the American way.
So I just don't agree with the folks who've said we can't afford a lifeline for Americans who lost their jobs during the worst recession in generations, but we can afford to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. That's bad economic policy, and it's also just simply wrong.
A: Senator Biden opposes employment discrimination of any kind--including race, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation. He has consistently supported the Employment Non Discrimination Act to prohibit employment discrimination on basis of sexual orientation.
Q: Many gay & lesbian people serve in the federal government but do not receive the same health insurance and other employee benefits of married couples. Do you support domestic partner coverage for gay and lesbian employees of the civilian federal workforce?
A: Senator Biden believes that federal employees in legally recognized, committed relationships should not be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation.
A: I would implement every one of the recommendations that have been already made and have not been implemented.
Actually, the opposite is true. All the candidates on the stage had a better “lifetime” labor record than Biden, as measured by the AFL-CIO’s ratings of Senate and House votes. The AFL-CIO’s latest listings show Biden voting its way 85% of the time over his entire Senate career--the lowest lifetime rating of all the candidates on the stage that night.
Despite this, a Biden spokeswoman said, “Sen. Biden enjoys comparable ratings to his opponents during comparable periods of time.” And in any case, the AFL-CIO’s “ratings do not equal a track record of getting legislative & practical results for labor.”
In 2005 Biden’s record was 93%, Clinton’s 86%, and Obama’s 100%. In 2006 Biden tied Clinton & Obama, with all of them voting with the AFL CIO 93% of the time.
A: My net worth is $70,000 to $150,000. That’s what happens you get elected at 29. I couldn’t afford to stay in the Congress for the minimum wage. But if I get a second job, I’d do it.
This administration is lined up 10 deep to strip away 100 years of labor progress. They focus on tort reform, court reform, and labor reform--the only three things that stand between the giants & average people. It’s time to say “no more.”
This bill lacks fiscal discipline. It continues subsidies for the wealthy and increases farm bill spending by more than $20 billion, while using budget gimmicks to hide much of the increase. It is inconsistent with our trade objectives of securing greater market access for American farmers. [Hence] I must veto H.R. 6124.Proponents argument for voting YEA:We had a meeting this morning with the Secretary of Agriculture to talk about implementation. So [despite the two vetoes], the work has been going on within the department of agriculture to get ready for implementation.
This is a good bill. It has wide support in the Congress. It does address all of the issues that have been brought to the Agriculture Committee.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. ALEXANDER: Let me begin with this story. In March 2007, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the Salvation Army for allegedly discriminating against two employees in a Boston area thrift store. What had the Salvation Army done to earn this lawsuit from the Federal Government? Well, it had required its employees to speak English on the job. The English rule was clearly posted, and the employees were given a year to learn it. But this lawsuit means that a small business in Missouri would have to hire a lawyer in order to make sure they have a clear business reason to require their employees to speak our common language on the job.
So I have an amendment to bring some common sense to this subject. It would be to take $670,000 used by the EEOC, which it is using to bring actions against employers who require their employees to speak English.OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. KENNEDY: Let's look at what the law is and what the Alexander amendment provides. The law currently says that if there is a need to speak English on the job, fine; employers can require that. But employers cannot use English-only rules as an excuse when they want to fire minorities who are performing the job correctly. In this fact situation, those employees had performed the job correctly for 5 years.
In addition, this amendment reduces the EEOC's ability to fight all forms of discrimination because it cuts the entire budget. That means race, age, religion, and disability cases will be harmed. I hope the amendment will be defeated.LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment passed, 54-44
Proponents support voting YES because:
The principle at stake here is the freedom that all workers should have to organize for better working conditions & fair wages. There are many employers around the country who honor this freedom. Unfortunately, there are also many employers who do not. These employers attempt to prevent workers from unionizing by using tactics that amount to harassment, if not outright firing. In fact, one in five people who try to organize unions are fired. These tactics are already illegal, but the penalties are so minor, they are not effective deterrents.
Opponents support voting NO because:
Democracy itself is placed at risk by this bill. The sanctity of the secret ballot is the backbone of our democratic process. Not one voter signed a card to send us here to Congress. None of us sent our campaign workers out to voters' houses armed with candidate information & a stack of authorization cards. No. We trusted democracy. We trusted the voters to cast their ballots like adults, freely, openly, without intimidation, and we live with the results. But here we are, poised to advance legislation to kill a secret ballot process.
Let's be clear. Every American has the right to organize. No one is debating that. This is a right we believe in so strongly we have codified it and made it possible for workers to do so through a secret ballot.
Status: Cloture rejected Cloture vote rejected, 51-48 (3/5ths required)
Proponents support voting YES because:
We have waited for over 10 years to have a clean vote on the minimum wage for the poorest workers in this country Low-wage workers had their wages frozen in time, from 10 years ago, but when they go to the supermarket, the food prices are higher; when they put gasoline in the car, the gasoline prices are higher; when they pay the utility bills, the utility bills are higher; when their kids get sick, the medical bills are higher. All of those things are higher. They are living in 2007, but in their wages they are living in 1997.
Opponents support voting NO because:
This bill is marked more by what is not in the bill than what is in it. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They create two-thirds of our Nation's new jobs, and they represent 98% of the new businesses in the US. What protection does this bill provide them? None whatsoever.
We can do better. In the interest of sending the President a final measure that provides consideration for small businesses and their workers, the very men and women who are responsible for our economy's recent growth and strength, we must do better.
To: Labor Secretary Elaine Chao
Dear Secretary Chao:
We write to express our serious concerns about the Department's proposed regulation on white collar exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act. These sweeping changes could eliminate overtime pay protections for millions of American workers.
We urge you not to implement this new regulation that will end overtime protections for those currently eligible. Under current law, the FLSA discourages employers from scheduling overtime by making overtime more expensive. According to a GAO study, employees exempt from overtime pay are twice as likely to work overtime as those covered by the protections. Our citizens are working longer hours than ever before – longer than in any other industrial nation. At least one in five employees now has a work week that exceeds 50 hours. Protecting the 40-hour work week is vital to balancing work responsibilities and family needs. It is certainly not family friendly to require employees to work more hours for less pay.
Overtime protections clearly make an immense difference in preserving the 40-hour work week. Millions of employees depend on overtime pay to make ends meet and pay their bills for housing, food, and health care. Overtime pay often constitutes 20-25% of their wages. These workers will face an unfair reduction in their take-home pay if they can no longer receive their overtime pay.
We urge you not to go forward with any regulation that denies overtime pay protections to any of America's currently eligible hard-working men and women.
As the federation of America’s unions, the AFL-CIO includes more than 13 million of America’s workers in 60 member unions working in virtually every part of the economy. The mission of the AFL-CIO is to improve the lives of working families to bring economic justice to the workplace and social justice to our nation. To accomplish this mission we will build and change the American labor movement.
The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Federal Aviation Administration Fair Labor Management Dispute Resolution Act of 2006: Prohibits the FAA from implementing any proposed change to the FAA personnel management system in cases where the services of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service do not lead to an agreement between the Administrator and FAA employees, unless Congress authorizes the change during the 60-day period. Requires binding arbitration if Congress does not enact a bill into law within the 60-day period.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: Because what air traffic controllers do is vital to our safety, I became very concerned by a letter I received from Illinois air traffic controller Michael Hannigan. He wrote that "the air traffic controllers are not being allowed to negotiate in good faith with the FAA."
What was clear in Michael's plea was the sense that he and his colleagues felt that they were being treated unfairly. I looked into it and came to the conclusion that if we did not restore a fair negotiation procedure, it would threaten agency morale and effectiveness.
The problem is this: the FAA Administrator currently has the extraordinary authority to impose wages and working conditions on her workers without arbitration. In order to do that, she merely has to declare an impasse in negotiations and if Congress does not stop her from imposing her terms and conditions within 60 days, the Administrator can go ahead and act unilaterally. That authority denies air traffic controllers and all other FAA employees the opportunity to engage in and conclude negotiations in good faith.
It is in the best interest of the agency and public safety to have management and labor cooperate in contract negotiations.
EXCERPTS OF BILL:
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; never came to a vote.
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