Support the FAIR Act to end forced arbitration for 60 million Americans
Workers across all industries gather in Washington, DC on Thursday to advocate for the end mandatory arbitration
WASHINGTON, DC (Feb 28, 2019) — Representatives Hank Johnson (GA-04), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), and Bobby Scott (VA-03) will introduce the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act and a slate of related bills to end a practice that denies 60 million Americans access to their basic civil rights, along with many more millions of American consumers.
Read the full text of the speech with which we will open this morning’s press conference:
Thank you to Senator Blumenthal, Congressman Johnson and Chairman Nadler, as well as the rest of the Members of Congress who are joining us today to announce these historic bill introductions.
I stand before you joined by workers from all backgrounds, as well as assault and harassment survivors, consumers who’ve had money illegally stolen from them, families who can’t get justice for their loved one in a nursing home, and an navy reservist who was fired for taking time off to serve his country. What is the one thing they all have in common? Forced arbitration. These words — buried in the fine print of everything from employee handbooks to credit card agreements and nursing home forms — strip individuals of the power to seek justice and accountability when their rights have been violated.
But the time has come to end to forced arbitration. In the last two years, we’ve seen journalists and front-line engineers put tech companies in the spotlight, forcing changes around how we address discrimination and harassment in the workplace. We watched as some companies tried to create policies in a surgical fashion, carving only a narrow category of cases where justice might be received. But workers continued to beat the drum of intersectionality and highlight the root cause of ALL inequity: the structural imbalances of power. And slowly, some companies started to relent, rolling out blanket policies that eliminated forced arbitration.
Now, time is up for ALL corporations, across all sectors. We come here today not as employees of the same company or colleagues in tech, but as 6 of the 60 million workers in America denied access to justice. We each come with our own experiences to know that no worker is ‘safe’ until all workers are safe. No consumers are empowered until all consumers are empowered.
We call on Congress to quickly pass the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act. We cannot have an honest conversation about labor rights or restoring consumer protections until we pull back the curtain of forced arbitration, which denies employees and consumers of their ability to fully and publicly vindicate their rights. It is 2019 — time is up.
Members of Congress and senior staffers on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill have made the message clear: support for this bill is a no-brainer. It doesn’t matter your party or political beliefs — forced arbitration is bad for Americans, bad for business, and bad for the government. It creates operational risks for companies, introduces market distortion and stresses our aid programs — all of which would be eliminated if we restored public accountability in the workplace. So we call on all members of Congress to become sponsors of the bills.
Today, workers across health care, fast food, media, and elderly care don solidarity pins to end forced arbitration as they share their stories of injustice. It is clear that all our fates are tied to one another. We call on workers across all sectors of business to let your elected officials know where you stand on this matter.
We can wait for a company-by-company change or we can fix this at the level of the law. Use bit.ly/findmyhouserep to get in touch with your House Representative and say, “Contact Jacqui Kappler in Congressman Hank Johnson’s personal office to become a sponsor of the FAIR Act.” Then call your Senator and say, “Contact Adam Bradlow in Senator Blumenthal’s office to become a sponsor of the FAIR Act.”
We make this call because we know that organizing works. One week ago, Alphabet announced plans to end forced arbitration for its full-time employees. This came only after months of campaigning and constant public pressure to improve equity in the workplace. Additionally, this week, Vox Media dropped forced arbitration due to internal petitioning.
But we still have work to do as temporary workforces and other companies remain unprotected. We’re not stopping until the 60M+ workers affected by forced arbitration across the US have the same rights as we do. Neither should you.