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Speaking at the Centennial Bread & Roses recognition event


In the mid-1800s, the Lowell Mill Girls spun and wove the first threads of our nation’s industrial history in the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts.  They were some of the first women to enter the workforce and although they were only paid half of what their male counterparts earned, many were able to attain economic independence for the first time. These women, along with men and women from across the Merrimack Valley went on to fight fearlessly for workers’ rights and ignited a movement that rippled across the country. 

On January 12th, 1912, workers of all nationalities from the massive textile mills in Lawrence took to the streets to protest working and living conditions. The two month strike, and the violent efforts by mill owners and the militia to punish the strikers, caught the attention of the nation and the world. As a result, advances in labor law and living conditions were brought about by Congress and President Taft. The Bread & Roses Strike, as it was called, influenced public policy and helped our government construct important safety nets, thanks to the workers and child laborers who testified to Congress about the working conditions they toiled under in 1912.

We have come a long way since those original Lowell Mill Girls forged their way into the workforce and the fearless men, women and children in Lawrence courageously went on strike, but our journey is far from complete.

As we have been reminded in recent years, the labor movement faces new and growing challenges to the ability of workers to collectively bargain for fair pay, adequate benefits and a better way of life. We also need to level the playing field so that American workers can compete in an ever-growing and ever-more competitive global economy. 

Reducing unemployment and growing jobs in America is a cornerstone for strengthening our economy. From early 2010 to the beginning of 2014, there have been over 8 million jobs added to the private sector. But we still have a lot of work to do, and I continue to work in Congress to support workers’ rights and keeping jobs here on American soil.




For too long, multinational corporations have fueled the idea that we don’t need to make things here in America anymore, that we can invent things here but let our global competitors make them overseas.  That idea ignores the very real dangers to our economy and our well-being of simply ceding manufacturing to other countries. 

Under current law, multinational corporations can use a myriad of tax breaks and loopholes to avoid paying taxes here at home, essentially providing them with U.S.-funded subsidies for investing abroad—moving factories and jobs overseas—instead of investing here at home. 

That’s one reason that companies like Verizon and General Electric ended up owing no US income taxes in the five-year period between 2008 and 2012, despite making billions of dollars in profit over the same time frame. I have consistently voted to remove these incentives and to reward companies that hire American workers and invest here.

The success of companies right here in the Third District, like Polartec, Century Box and New Balance, demonstrates that manufacturing jobs can stay here. We need to pursue policies at the federal level that support their efforts. That is why I have hosted a number of public events to hear directly from US manufacturers, experts, local stakeholders and the public about how to grow the domestic manufacturing base and promote policies that keep jobs in the United States rather than having them sent overseas.

As a result of that input, I have strongly supported initiatives like the Democratic “Make it in America” agenda, which seek to grow the domestic manufacturing base and promote policies that keep jobs in the United States—see more below.

Listen to my discussion about manufacturing on WGBH Radio

I have voted to:

·         increase and better target workforce training to ensure that workers have the skills to fill high-tech Massachusetts jobs,

·         create incentives for manufacturing done here and eliminate tax rewards for companies that ship jobs overseas,

·         crackdown on Chinese currency manipulation which artificially and unfairly makes it more expensive for our domestic manufacturers,

·         create a national manufacturing strategy,

·         improve the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program to support small and medium-sized manufacturers,

·         help community colleges focus on the skill sets needed by area manufacturers,

·         provide federal loan guarantees to help manufacturers access capital,

·         and provide seed-funding to high-tech companies.


The idea that Americans don’t need to make things anymore ignores the groundbreaking manufacturing still performed here and the potential for that to grow. Due to our highly-skilled and educated workforce in Massachusetts, we have benefitted tremendously from the growth of good-paying, high-skilled manufacturing jobs, which have helped keep our unemployment lower than much of the rest of the nation.  

Studies show that manufacturing jobs pay 20% more on average than other types of jobs and, because manufacturers depend on a large supply chain to feed into them, they create a ripple effect of dozens of other new jobs in the process. Manufacturing companies are also key drivers of innovation, accounting for 68% of the research and development spending in the U.S. according to work done by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

Throughout Massachusetts, we see these kinds of technological clusters, where relationships among research universities, hospitals, start-ups and established firms ensure a steady influx of talent, capital, and new ideas. We must support the manufacturing base that is thriving here and encourage more manufacturing jobs to return. 

That is why I have supported a series of legislative proposals in the U.S. House of Representatives entitled the Make It In America agenda, which takes common sense steps such as making the research and development tax credit permanent without adding to the deficit; providing other targeted tax incentives to encourage manufacturing and reward firms that create jobs here; promoting science, technology, engineering, and math education; and improving and investing in workforce training and retraining, particularly through partnerships between the private sector and our community colleges. 

Similarly, over the past several years, I have championed legislation that will boost local and national footwear manufacturing while simultaneously supplying U.S. servicemembers with the best equipment possible.  In April 2014, the Department of Defense announced its decision to change its policy, based on legislation that I authored with Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine, and provide recruits with American-made footwear.  Innovative companies, such as New Balance, are able to provide our servicemembers with quality products and keep business here on American soil. This policy change will boost job growth, spur economic development and innovation and give the brave men and women of our armed forces better gear. It is a win all around.

Read more about the DOD's footwear policy change:

Lowell Sun: DOD to provide military American-made footwear

Boston Herald: New Balance gets DoD boost

Eagle-Tribune: New Balance gains from military rule change

Boston Business Journal: A fully American-made shoe will soon be mass produced in New England


In 2013 I introduced legislation—the Helping Individuals Return to Employment (HIRE) Act—which creates a grant program to allow our nation’s hardest hit communities to directly hire unemployed workers for projects benefitting the community. Jobs funded through the program must provide at least 20 hours of work a week and funds must be used to create new jobs (not pay for existing jobs), but maximum flexibility is provided to local grantees about which types of jobs to fund based on the needs of the community. For example, funds can be used to hire workers for public works, beautification, historic restoration, tutoring, adult education and so on.  This proposal has the support of local stakeholders—like the City of Lowell, UTEC, Lawrence Community Works, among others—and of national analysts, like Andrew Fieldhouse at the Economic Policy Institute.


I have introduced bipartisan bills to provide tax relief to small businesses and to help make it easier for small businesses to team up to win government contracts, and been at the forefront of efforts to stand up for American small businesses.  For more information, check out my Small Business Page



I believe that workers have the right to form unions. Collective bargaining power has helped ensure fair wages, good working conditions and adequate benefits for millions of Americans.

That is why I was a proud co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act,which would allow employees to form unions by signing cards, in private, authorizing union representation. The bill would have required employers to come to the table to negotiate a contract, authorizes court orders to stop employers from firing or threatening union advocates, and strengthens the penalties in current law for the mistreatment of workers who support a union.

Current laws permit a wide range of employer tactics that interfere with workers' right to organize. The Employee Free Choice Act would have ensured that when a majority of employees in a workplace decide to form a union, they can do so without facing intimidation from employers. The bill would have created a system where all workers have a fair chance to secure a decent standard of living, access to health care, retirement security, and a safe workplace.

I also support collective bargaining rights for public safety employees. I voted in favor of the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, which would give collective bargaining rights to public safety employees like firefighters and first responders.

I have consistently voted against bills that would change the rules around collective bargaining, reverse rules that streamline the union election process, and prevent the government from taking corrective actions against employers that violate labor laws.


As new businesses locate or expand in the Third Congressional District, or when public dollars are used to invest in economic development, I have consistently urged local public and private organizations to give local labor organizations the opportunity to bid on construction contracts and other trades work. I also have strongly supported disenfranchised workers by advocating on their behalf in support of collective bargaining rights.


I am a proud original co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a comprehensive measure that builds on the protections in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to help put an end to the discriminatory practice of paying a woman less than a man for performing the same job.

I was also a proud cosponsor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restored a basic protection against pay discrimination by rectifying the Supreme Court decision in the case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. The case concerned Lilly Ledbetter, a Goodyear employee with more than 19 years of service to her employer who did not discover until the end of her career that she was paid significantly less than her male counterparts. Seeking back pay, she sued Goodyear. In a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court overturned decades of precedent, ruling that Ledbetter should have filed her claim within six months of receiving her first discriminatory paycheck. 

This bill was signed into law by President Obama on January 29, 2009.


Forty-one million Americans lack paid sick time to care for themselves or for a family member. Of those individuals who make less than $20,000 a year, only 28% have access to paid sick leave.  And millions of workers who do have paid leave for themselves can’t use it to care for a sick parent or child. Healthy workers provide greater productivity in the workplace, saving businesses money and helping to grow our economy. Providing paid sick time makes it easier for sick adults and children to be isolated at home and reduces the spread of infectious diseaseWhen men and women can take care of their children, children get better faster, the spread of serious illness is limited, and children's overall mental and physical health improves.

Hardworking Americans deserve the chance to take care of their families without putting their jobs on the line. That is why I am a proud original co-sponsor of the Healthy Families Act. This legislation would allow Americans to earn paid sick time so that they can address their own health needs and the health needs of their families, guaranteeing up to seven paid sick days a year. It would also allow workers to use paid sick time to recover from or seek assistance related to an incidence of domestic violence or sexual assault. Legislation such as the Healthy Families Act removes barriers that keep women from working because of their family obligations. This legislation will help all workers achieve better work-life balance.


In February 2009, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order that encouraged federal agencies to consider requiring the use of Project Labor Agreements on large-scale construction projects. I supported this order. Project Labor Agreements ensure that workers get fair wages, benefits, and have formal procedures that lay out how to resolve disputes. They provide contractors with a reliable and uninterrupted supply of workers at predictable costs for wages and benefits, and make it easier to manage a large project on budget.


I am an original co-sponsor of H.R. 1010, the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would increase the minimum wage in three 95-cent steps, over three years, from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour. After these increases, the rate of the minimum wage and tipped minimum wage would be indexed to inflation.  The Act would also raise the minimum wage for tipped workers, which hasn’t been increased in decades, by going up at a rate of 95 cents each year, until it reaches 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the positive economic effects of raising the minimum wage.  Because workers have more money to spend, time after time has shown that this spending translates to increased economic growth.  In fact, according to a study by the Fiscal Policy Institute, the 18 states with a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum had "consistently better" indicators of economic performance than those states with lower wages. Further, according to the Economic Policy institute, a minimum wage increase of this scale would benefit more than 21 million individuals.

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