March 27, 2009
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Correcting the Bush Administration's Failure to Protect
Workers' Wage and Hour Rights
On March 25, ABC News reported the results of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation of the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. The investigation revealed the GAO's failure to retrieve from employers what could be billions of dollars in wages stolen from workers.
WASHINGTON – When Secretary Hilda Solis recently took over the helm at the U.S. Department of Labor, the department was in dire need of new leadership and a recommitment to the rights of working men and women. Under the previous administration, the Department of Labor, through ineptitude or design-likely a combination of both-failed to diligently pursue cases of stolen wages and return that money to the affected employees. We are confident that Secretary Solis will restore the department's competence, integrity and sense of mission.
The GAO's investigation provides clear evidence that today's workers need labor unions. Unions help workers when employers exploit them and the government ignores their pleas for assistance. It has never been more obvious that we need legislation like the Employee Free Choice Act, which would ensure that more of America's working families have someone in their corner.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.