America's broad, deep Middle Class, indeed, the American Dream was formed in the 20-25 years after the passage of the Wagner Act in 1935 which codified the right of workers in America to freely form unions and bargain collectively.
Between 1935 and 1955 12 million workers formed unions and more than one in three workers in America became union members.
These workers literally bargained their way into the Middle Class and bargained into existence the American Middle Class and the American Dream.
We can restore that freedom to form unions and bargain collectively again, thereby increasing consumer demand to lift our economy and restore economic vitality and to allow workers to rebuild their power in the marketplace so critical to restoring the power average Americans need to get America back to work.
Labor unions, people of faith, civic and community leaders, academics, and other Americans of good will have been working hard since about 2002 to restore these very important freedoms. And until these freedoms are restored millions of workers will continue to be denied entry to the Middle Class.
Already 12 states have reformed their laws governing public employee labor relations to give state workers and others the freedom to form unions and bargain collectively--including majority sign-up.
Very productive work is underway to change the rules in the Railway Labor Act to restore essential freedoms to workers in America's transportation industry to form unions and bargain collectively.
Most importantly, we are very close to getting the support necessary to pass the Employee Free Choice Act which would simplify and streamline organizing, effectively punish employers who violate workers rights with $20,000 civil fines and triple damage back pay for firing workers, and force the Financial Elite to bargain in good faith with unions by allowing unions to seek arbitration for recalcitrant employers.
The legislation has the support of President Obama and the US House of Representatives which passed it 241-185 in March of 2007. The Employee Free Choice Act has the support of a majority of the US Senate. But under the current rules in the Senate you need not a majority -- 50 votes-- but a super-majority of 60 votes to move legislation to where a vote to pass it can even take place.
We are very close to the 60 votes we need. It we aren't able to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, we will work with President Obama and Vice President Biden and their appointees to the National Labor Relations Board to change the rules governing forming a union through administrative action to once again allow workers in America access to one of the most basic freedoms in a democracy--the freedom of speech and assembly and association so that workers can build the collective power to challenge the Financial Elite and Get America Back to Work.
Then, imagine, if forming a union were a simple, straightforward act, if the boss were powerless to stop you and if you could bargain for a fairer share of the wealth you create with your work and a real slice of the productivity you generate. And if together we could help one in five workers or one in three workers form unions where they work, then, together, unified we could have the people power to counteract the money power of the Financial Elite.