Michigan delivered an impassioned speech in support of rail workers.
"Corporate greed is a disease in this country," Tlaib explained during a rail worker solidarity rally. "We do live in the richest country on the planet, and no worker should have to choose between their health and a paycheck." Tlaib said, "We cannot allow corporate greed to continue to kill workers and our families."
The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) president Jimmy Williams and Communications Workers of America (CWA) secretary-treasurer Sara Steffens—co-chairs of the Worker Power Coalition, a nationwide alliance of labor and environmental advocacy groups representing 24 million workers, accompanied by Democratic Reps. Jamaal Bowman, Ro Khanna, Andy Levin, Donald Norcross. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar, demanded more funding for the cash-starved National Labor Relations Board.
While the NLRB's budget has effectively shrunk, its workload has soared. The federal agency tasked with enforcing U.S. labor law hasn't received a funding increase in nearly a decade. The NLRB's annual budget has been frozen at $274.2 million since 2014, which amounts to a 25% cut when inflation is taken into account. From 2021 to 2022, the number of union representation petitions and unfair labor practice charges filed grew by 53% and 19%, respectively. Meanwhile, the number of NLRB officials who oversee union elections and investigate employer abuses has been slashed by 50% since 2002.
AFL-CIO president Liz Shuler and the presidents of more than 40 unions called on Congress to "fund the NLRB so the agency can hire staff and procure the necessary resources to conduct hearings and elections, investigate ULP charges, and obtain full and prompt remedies for workers whose rights are violated."
"Our country is experiencing a moment of mass worker organizing—71% of Americans approve of unions and tens of millions of Americans would join a union right now if they could without retaliation or harassment," said Williams. "But the drastic underfunding of the NLRB means that many of these workers will face delays in getting a union vote or receiving justice for illegal retaliation or termination from their employers..."
The Economic Policy Institute warned that "the consequences of a funding shortfall could be disastrous for workers who rely on the NLRB to fairly oversee their efforts to unionize and to hold employers accountable for violating their rights, including Amazon and Starbucks workers."
"Big corporations and their CEOs routinely violate the law to bust unions and cling to their profits," said Omar. "It is the NLRB that holds these billionaire CEOs accountable when they try to stand in the way of worker power." However, the enforcers of labor law "are under threat from Republicans who want to weaken them and undermine their work," Omar continued. "We will not stop fighting to ensure that they have the resources they need to hold these union-busters accountable and make sure everyone's basic rights to organize and collectively bargain are protected."