Speech | Better Pay and Benefits

Shuler: We Need to Pass the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler delivered the following remarks as prepared at the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act Press Conference:

Hi everyone, it’s great to be here. I’m thrilled to be here with Lee (Saunders) and this incredible group of union leaders and lawmakers today to talk about this important legislation.

First, I want to say thank you to public service workers all across the country.

We see you and the work you do to keep families healthy and safe in every single community... In the face of Janus and anti-worker state legislatures and of course, COVID-19.

These are the working people in our schools and universities, working at all levels of education. The folks keeping our hospitals, libraries and museums running.

They answer the call for help as first responders, pick up trash, make sure our parks are clean and our water is safe to drink and so much more.

They work with the vulnerable and marginalized communities. They care for the elderly, our children, and the differently abled.

And through the worst ever global public health crisis, public service workers continue to step up.

Especially at the height of the pandemic, our members in the public sector have made incredible sacrifices to keep services moving and support our communities.

They were, are, and will always be essential.

Like all working people in this country, public service workers deserve the right to stand together with their coworkers in a union, to bargain together for safer and fairer working conditions.

That’s why we need to pass the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act.

Just like its private sector equivalent, the PRO Act, the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act is critical to building an economy that works for everyone.

We know that millions of working people would join a union today if they could. But they are afraid they’ll lose their jobs. The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act and the PRO Act would remove those barriers in the way—like the fear of getting fired.

Passing the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act is also a racial justice and gender equity issue. The public sector is a key employer for women and people of color. A majority of public service workers are women. And one in three public service workers are African American, Latino, or Asian American and Pacific Islanders.

Union contracts close wage gaps and guarantee equal pay.

Union contracts provide women and people of color with protections and support to confront and address discrimination at work.

And workers with a union are more likely to have access to benefits like paid family, medical and sick leave. 

Passing the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act will make it easier for millions of public service workers to benefit from the union difference.

That’s exactly what we need to Build Back Better as we continue to navigate and work to recover from the pandemic.

We’re having a moment in the country right now. #Striketober. Workers are not going to put up with poverty wages, little to no benefits and they’re not going to risk their lives when there’s a lack of safety protections on the job.

Passing the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act will make sure working people in the public sector have good, sustainable jobs. That’s good for working people and the communities they serve.

Thank you to Congressman Cartwright for being a steadfast labor champion and reintroducing this critical legislation.

The 12.5 million members of the AFL-CIO will not rest until the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act is the law of the land. Thank you.

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