Houlahan: Congress must continue to fight for the American worker

West Chester, PA, September 1, 2019

Originally published in the Daily Local

By Rep. Chrissy Houlahan

Labor Day is a day to celebrate, honor, and advocate for the working families who make our Commonwealth strong.

Thousands of Pennsylvanians in our community are making our Commonwealth a better place because of the work they do, because of their positive contributions to our economy, and because of their commitment to responsible and ethical labor practices.

My very first town hall as our elected representative was at the Teamsters Building in Wyomissing. Why? Because I know how critical the work our Teamsters and their fellow unions do is to training the workforce of tomorrow, providing good paying jobs today, and building a thriving economy.

Before coming to Congress, I spent many years scaling companies that put an emphasis on corporate social responsibility. What we found is that when companies commit to their employees, they not only foster a better and more desirable working environment, but also improve their bottom lines. For me, the role of business in Pennsylvania, and across our country, is to create a shared and more durable prosperity for all.

In 2019, nearly two million Pennsylvanians make less than $15 per hour. In Chester and Berks counties, the living wage for a family of four is already above that. No person working full time should struggle to provide for themselves or their families. That’s why I fought to pass the Raise the Wage Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hr. I’m also supporting the PHASE In $15 Wage Act, which considers the regional living wages across our country. The reality is too many people in our community struggle to make ends meet while working full time jobs. I’m fighting to change that.

Earlier this summer, I helped push the Butch Lewis Act through the House of Representatives. This legislation aims to save the pensions of at least 1.4 million workers and retirees across the country. Right now in our Commonwealth, 1,344 people are at risk of losing their pensions. That’s unacceptable. They earned those pensions through their hard work, and my philosophy is that you should reap the benefits of your hard work. Plain and simple.

Later this fall, I am hopeful that the PRO Act, a bill I am cosponsoring, is voted on in Congress. This important legislation protects and expands the rights of workers to form unions.

Our work in Washington and Pennsylvania doesn’t end here. Today, we celebrate what we’ve accomplished and look ahead to the challenges we face. I am inspired by the many labor organizations in our community that engage with our office and take a stand for those hardworking Pennsylvanians who make our Commonwealth better. I see you. I hear you. And I will keep fighting for you.

Happy Labor Day to all.

Christina Marie Houlahan is an American Democratic politician, engineer, entrepreneur, and former United States Air Force officer. She is the U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania's 6th congressional district.