Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Need To Protect The Rights Of Workers And Confirming Gwynne Wilcox And David Prouty To The National Labor Relations Board

July 28, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the importance of reinvigorating the labor movement and protecting worker rights starting with Senate action today to confirm Gwynne Wilcox and David Prouty to the National Labor Relations Board. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

By the end of today, the Senate will confirm two nominees to the NLRB, the National Labor Relations Board: Gwynne Wilcox and David Prouty.

Both are champions for working Americans. Ms. Wilcox, who hails from my home state of New York I’m proud to say, has spent her career representing workers and unions seeking to exercise their right to organize.

She is one of the nation’s leading experts on labor law, and if confirmed, she would make history as the first African American woman to ever serve on the NLRB.

Like Ms. Wilcox, David Prouty has also has spent a lifetime defending the rights of organized labor across the country, recently serving as general counsel of the SEIU, one of the nation’s largest unions.

Over the course of American history, the labor movement has been the single most powerful force in lifting Americans out of poverty and into the middle class. It was by coming to this country and joining a union that my grandfather entered the middle class, and passed on even more opportunity to his children, and then to me and my brother and sister.

So it is no mistake that as labor union participation has declined over the past few decades, wages have stalled as well, and folks are finding it harder and harder to stay in the middle class.

If we are going to strengthen the backbone of the middle class, we need to reinvigorate the labor movement and protect the rights of workers everywhere to organize and bargain collectively for their wages.

Appointing these two labor champions to the NLRB is a great way to start.

And, to the American people, the confirmation today of these two NLRB labor champions is a direct result of having a Democratic majority in the Senate versus having a Republican majority.

For a time under Leader McConnell and the Republicans, the NLRB—which is typically divided between the two parties—had only Republican appointees for the first time in its 85-year history. None of them had experience in labor policy, they’re almost atavistically against working people, and helped management and the big bosses prevent people from organizing, and making it harder to stay organized if you were. It was awful. And it’s one of the reasons that middle-class incomes have not accelerated in the last two decades.

In fact, the Republicans were so intent on not having the NLRB defend the rights of working people, that under Leader McConnell, a Democratic seat on the NLRB was held vacant for nearly three years. If the American people want to know which side each party is on, just look at the NLRB. Democrats appointing pro-labor people who fight for higher salaries, higher pensions, better health benefits. Republicans making sure the NLRB doesn’t function, and allowing the big bosses to take a dominant role in negotiations with their workers.

Even during the years when President Trump was in the White House and Republicans had a majority on the NLRB, Leader McConnell blocked Democrats from appointing a minority member to the board. They did not even want a minority member on the board. Even though they would have the majority, the Republicans.

It’s not a stretch to say: if Democrats had not taken the majority in January, these important posts to the NLRB may never have been filled.

So look: Senate Democrats are working with the Biden Administration to make sure the National Labor Relations Board does what it is intended to do: stand up for working Americans, make sure they have a much better chance of getting better wages, better benefits, better pensions.

I look forward to confirming these two outstanding nominees later today.