Empowering America’s workers
Chris Castle is similar to many working Americans.
He lives in Thornton, Colorado with his wife and daughter. Each day he drives to the Department of Veterans Affairs in Denver where he works as a loan specialist. He spends his weekends with his family and serves as the Executive Vice President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 1557.
Before coming to Colorado, Chris served in the Marine Reserves in a Military Police unit in Fort Snelling, Minnesota. During the Gulf War his unit was activated and he served in combat in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
About five years ago, Chris and his wife created a dream board. It was a simple bulletin board to which they attached a handful of aspirational long-term life and career goals.
One of Chris’ goals was “Attend a conference at the White House.”
Earlier this week, that dream came true.
On Wednesday, Chris was one of only three people from Colorado to participate in the White House Summit on Worker Voice. I was honored to personally welcome Chris to Washington DC and met with him in my office as he told me how excited he was to participate in the White House conference.
The day-long conference focused on policies to ensure that working Americans fully share in the benefits of the broad-based economic growth that they are helping create by having the ability to collectively bargain for a fair share of the fruits of their labor.
Even as our economy continues its recovery, many working families are still finding it difficult to get ahead.
American families are working longer and harder only to see the buying power of their paychecks get smaller and smaller.
The Worker Voice Summit tackled this challenge by focusing on how workers like Chris can make their voices heard in the workplace in new and creative ways that are good for workers and good for businesses.
Throughout our nation’s history, America’s workers have led the way on countless important achievements that empower Americans to provide for their families and, as a result strengthen our middle class. We have labor organizations to thank for everything from fair wages and weekends off to pension plans and workplace safety standards.
But there’s still work that needs to be done. We must fight for rules that level the playing field and economy that rewards hard work by enacting policies such as the Department of Labor’s proposed overtime rule, to ensure that Americans are paid fairly for the hours of overtime they put in; or passing paid sick and family leave so that families don’t have to choose between their health and keeping their job; or most importantly, strengthening and protecting the rights of workers to organize and collectively bargain. When unscrupulous employers retaliate against workers for trying to organize — as they do in nearly three out of every four cases — there must be a meaningful deterrent.
These are the policies I’m focused on as the Ranking Member of the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions subcommittee.
But these advances cannot be made without the voice of American workers like Chris.
The Worker Voice Summit was a powerful tool for capturing them and I’m thrilled that Colorado workers like Chris were able to make their voices heard.