Giving Working Families a Voice

by Secretary Tom Perez on July 15, 2014 · 6 comments

Daniel Murphy

Top: Daniel Murphy speaks at a White House event on working fathers. Bottom: Murphy at work. (Photo Credit: New York Daily News)

Tonight, New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy will participate in Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game – proof positive that you can perform peerlessly at your job while still taking care of your family at critical moments. Murphy made headlines a few months ago when he chose to miss the first game of the season to be with his wife after she gave birth to their child.

Murphy’s story is one about having the right priorities and being faithful to your values, even in the face of criticism. But his story is about something else very important – the power of membership in a strong labor union, which can use collective bargaining to secure paternity leave and other essential benefits.

Three weeks ago, a crowd of more than a thousand – workers, business leaders, policymakers, advocates and more – gathered at the first White House Summit on Working Families to ignite a conversation about how to provide more people with the same workplace benefits and protections enjoyed by Daniel Murphy. And the labor movement, which has been in the vanguard of this struggle, played a prominent role.

We heard at the summit from prominent labor leaders like SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. But union rank-and-file were also out in full force.

A delegation of 50 members of the United Steelworkers came to the summit, including Elva Martes of Local 6621 in Ohio: “Belonging to a union at a young age,” Elva said, “gave me the opportunity to provide for my daughter with paid sick time, vacation time and equal pay.”

John and Krista Brooks with Tina Tchen, executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls

John and Krista Brooks with Tina Tchen, executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls

John and Krista Brooks of San Mateo, California were there too. Krista is a graduate of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ apprenticeship program and John is a third-year apprentice. Thanks to California’s paid leave law, both Krista and John were able to take time off without sacrificing a paycheck when their daughter was born.

Kay Thompson of Brooklyn, New York spoke at the summit. She has worked for 20 years at Macy’s in midtown Manhattan. And as a proud member of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (a UFCW affiliate), she has a flexible scheduling arrangement that has allowed her to get her four daughters ready for school in the morning and to take one of the girls for treatment at an asthma specialist that is only open once a week.

Union members not only earn higher median wages; they are more likely to have paid sick leave, short-term disability and employer-provided child care. Giving people a voice at work – the ability to organize and negotiate for their fair share of the value they helped create – is absolutely essential to a growing, vibrant middle class.

As we lean in on paid leave and these other issues, we need everyone – unions, employers, workers and policymakers – working together on win-win solutions to make our families stronger, our workplaces more productive and our economy more competitive in the 21st century.


Follow Secretary Perez on Twitter as @LaborSec and join the conversation on these issues using the hashtag #FamiliesSucceed.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nits July 21, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Employment is improving and unemployment rate is at the rate it was before recession. We are getting the jobs. But rate also improved because many have left the employment to do business.

2 real football July 21, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Union members not only earn higher median wages; they are more likely to have paid sick leave, short-term disability and employer-provided child care. Giving people a voice at work – the ability to organize and negotiate for their fair share of the value they helped create – is absolutely essential to a growing, vibrant middle class.

3 Light July 22, 2014 at 9:33 am

Hats off to you Dan Murphy! You really stood up to what you believe and more specially you just showed the public that you love your family more than else.

4 bart July 25, 2014 at 8:15 am

New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy on Thursday calmly deflected talk-radio criticism of his decision to miss the first two games of the season for the birth of his first child.

“I got a couple of text messages about it, so I’m not going to sit here and lie and say I didn’t hear about it,” Murphy said about the on-air criticism from WFAN Radio of his decision. “But that’s the awesome part about being blessed, about being a parent, is you get that choice. My wife and I discussed it, and we felt the best thing for our family was for me to try to stay for an extra day — that being Wednesday — due to the fact that she can’t travel for two weeks.
Fishing cabarete is good for the problem

5 S Q Kong July 27, 2014 at 10:43 am

I agree with the author, Secretary Perez, of the need of giving people a voice at work. Many forget about the middle class but yet it makes up a large percentage of the population. I believe in educating and training the middle class employees and giving them more platforms to voice their concerns, aspirations and needs so as to bring about more productive workplaces and an increase in competitiveness of the economy.

6 Frank September 8, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Employment is improving and unemployment rate is at the rate it was before recession. We are getting the jobs. But rate also improved because many have left the employment to do business.[link removed]

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