Tim Ryan has finally found a reason to yell.
After listening to Republicans take aim at legislation that would help organized labor, the Ohio Democrat let them know on Tuesday that he’s had about enough of the party’s preoccupation with stoking inane culture wars while American workers are still suffering through the pandemic.
“Heaven forbid we pass something that’s going to help the damn workers in the United States of America,” Ryan said as he defended the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would strengthen the rights of labor unions. “Heaven for bid we tilt the balance that has been going in the wrong direction for 50 years. We talk about pensions, you complain. We talk about the minimum wage increase, you complain. We talk about giving them the right to organize, you complain. But if we were passing a tax cut here, you’d be getting in line to vote yes for it. Now stop talking about Dr. Seuss and start working with us on behalf of the American workers.”
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) yells at the GOP over union organizing bill: “Heaven forbid we pass something that’s going to help the damn workers in the United States of America.”
He adds: “Now stop talking about Dr. Seuss, and work with us …” pic.twitter.com/0RbmxQUPxB
— The Recount (@therecount) March 9, 2021
It’s a damn good point, and just refreshing to see a congressional Democrat actually get visibly, demonstrably angry at Republican inaction. It’s especially refreshing to see that anger come from Ryan, who in a 2020 Democratic primary debate famously — sort of — criticized Bernie Sanders for yelling during an exchange about curbing greenhouse gas emissions. “I didn’t say we couldn’t get there ’til 2040, Bernie,” Ryan said after Sanders very enthusiastically blasted Democrats who are scared to take on the fossil-fuel industry, implying Ryan was among them. “You don’t have to yell.”
Ryan’s campaign felt the moment was noteworthy enough to make bumper stickers out of it. To the surprise of no one, Ryan dropped out of the race three months later.
The legislation Ryan was defending on Tuesday includes several measures that would level the playing field between unions and their employers, including the elimination of state right-to-work laws, strengthening protections for independent contractors, allowing the National Labor Relations Board to impose fines against businesses who break labor laws. Republicans have argued that the PRO Act would invite corruption, citing the recent embezzlement scandal that tore apart the leadership of the United Auto Workers union. Democrats have argued that the UAW scandal had nothing to do with union empowerment, and that updating labor law is long overdue.
“One of the earlier speakers said this is the most dramatic change in labor law in 80 years, and I say: Thank God,” Ryan said on Tuesday. “In the late Seventies a CEO made 35 times the worker. Today it’s 300-400 times the worker.”
President Biden is on board, too. “After generations of sweat and sacrifice, fighting hard to earn the wages and benefits that built and sustained the American middle class, unions are under siege,” the president wrote this week in endorsing the bill. “Nearly 60 million Americans would join a union if they get a chance, but too many employers and states prevent them from doing so through anti-union attacks. They know that without unions, they can run the table on workers — union and non-union alike.”
The PRO Act is expected to pass the Democrat-controlled House, after which it will move to the Senate where it will likely die, because that’s what happens in the Senate.