HTC ally Chuck Schumer to become Senate Majority Leader

January 19, 2021 2:06 PM

The new Congress and Biden administration are days away from taking on the monumental task of implementing a national strategy to combat the coronavirus pandemic and rebuild our economy in a way that lifts up working people. The election of Georgia Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the United States Senate on January 5th not only delivered the Democratic Party a majority in both chambers of Congress and put President-elect Biden in a position to realistically enact his ambitious agenda, but it also elevated New York Senator Chuck Schumer to the powerful position of Senate Majority Leader.

This is great news for workers across our country. Throughout his 40 years in Congress, Senator Schumer has been an advocate for working people, a fierce supporter of the labor movement, and a very loyal friend to our Union. His new power will likely translate into more COVID-19 relief, dramatic labor law reforms that make it easier to organize a union, and a national $15 minimum wage.

Senate Majority Leader is one of the most powerful positions in the country

The Senate Majority Leader plays a major role in crafting legislation and exclusively decides which bills and federal nominees (including federal judges and members of the National Labor Relations Board) will come to the Senate floor for a vote. In effect, the Majority Leader alone sets the Senate’s agenda. In reality, without control of the House, Senate and Presidency, it is near impossible for a political party to implement any meaningful legislation.

We saw the power of this position used to the detriment of America’s working and middle class during the rule of Schumer’s predecessor, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, from 2015 to 2021. During this time, McConnell single-handedly blocked hundreds of bills passed by the House, including the HEROES Act, which would have provided desperately needed coronavirus aid in July and immediately extended the $600 a week supplemental unemployment benefits from July 2020 through January 2021. Meanwhile, McConnell rammed through anti-worker federal court nominees and pro-business tax reforms.

At this pivotal time in our nation’s future, Senator Schumer will have the power to make sure that key legislation goes to a vote in the Senate including another stimulus bill, major labor law reforms, changes to our immigration system, criminal justice reform, and legislation to address the climate crisis. While the power to bring these bills to a vote on the Senate floor is a critical first step, it doesn’t guarantee that they will be passed. In many cases, Schumer will have to wrangle bipartisan support.

New Yorkers stand to benefit from Senator Schumer’s role as Majority Leader

Senator Schumer will be the first New York senator to ever hold the position of Senate Majority Leader. As Senate Majority Leader, Senator Schumer will be able to secure more federal funding for New York State including possibly billions of dollars in funding for healthcare and vaccine distribution, public transit and the MTA, public education, and emergency protections for tenants.

Senator Schumer has been a loyal friend to the labor movement and HTC

Senator Schumer went to bat for our Union’s 40,000 members during the COIVD-19 crisis. Last month, HTC President Rich Maroko asked for Senator Schumer to propose an amendment to the December stimulus bill that would have allowed the Benefit Funds to receive PPP loans to prevent layoffs and the temporary closures of the Brooklyn and Harlem health centers. Senator Schumer fought hard for the amendment, yet the Republicans in the Senate refused to even consider it. Senator Schumer has committed to continue to fight for federal funding for our health centers in the next Congress.

Senator Schumer has also supported ambitious labor law reforms that would make it easier and safer for workers around the country to organize. In February 2020, the House passed the PRO Act, which would amend the National Labor Relations Act to require employers to recognize unions based on card-check elections, supersede anti-union “right-to-work” laws in all states, and make it illegal for management to require workers to attend anti-union meetings during organizing drives. Senator Schumer strongly supported that legislation, but it was blocked by Majority Leader McConnell. As Majority Leader, Senator Schumer could now bring these sweeping reforms to a vote in the Senate.

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer commented, “I am both blessed and excited to become Senate Majority Leader. No industry has suffered more or warrants more help to recover than the hotel and travel sector, yet its workers have kept at it through all challenges. As Senate Majority Leader, I plan to forge bold and progressive policies that help more workers form unions, that treats the Hotel Trades health care facilities equitably, that helps the hospitality industry recover, and that overcomes the COVID crisis so we can get our economy humming again. The workers in the Hotel Trades Council have been and will be vital partners in this exciting opportunity to build a more just and equitable America.”

Working people need a leader like Senator Schumer during this crisis

Over the last several decades, life has gotten unquestionably worse for most American workers. Income inequality has reached record highs. Most minimum-wage workers must work multiple jobs. The attacks on unions have gotten more aggressive. We need leaders who will take bold action and fight to turn things around for working people.

“Over the last 40 years, Senator Schumer has proven that he is tough, effective, and above all, a loyal friend to the labor movement,” remarked HTC President Rich Maroko. “He is exactly the type of leader we need in the Senate if we are going to rebuild our economy in a way that lifts up American workers and grows our middle class.”