As the former Chairman and Ranking Member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, it is my goal to pursue labor policies that encourage the creation of well-paying, stable jobs that Americans want to help secure their own futures. This requires a strong economy that can stand up to global competition. One of our nation’s historical strengths has been innovation. Through activities such as my annual Inventors Conference held in Wyoming, I encourage technological breakthroughs so that the best jobs and most innovative inventions stay in the United States. 

But it is the working men and women of our country who are, and always have been, the enduring strength of our economy. If we are to maintain a leadership role in the global economy, our workers will need to develop the skills and training they will need to be a part of tomorrow’s workforce.  They will then need to keep those skills current through the use of education and training programs that will keep them in touch with the dramatic advances in their career areas that are sure to come in the years ahead.  For several years I strived to improve the nation’s job training system through the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act. I was a co-sponsor of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that was signed into law on July 22, 2014.  This program helps American employees get the skills they need to better compete in the global economy and obtain secure futures. It will start hundreds of thousands of people a year on a better career path.

For some, the right career path might involve starting a small business. Small businesses are the principal generator of new jobs in the United States. Yet many in Washington, D.C. easily forget the disproportionate impact that burdensome federal rules and bureaucracies have on small businesses. Whenever I study a proposed federal mandate, I put myself in the shoes of the small business owner I once was and evaluate each mandate in terms of the effect it would have had on my business and my ability to provide for my employees and/or hire new ones. We must recognize the fact that whenever a new unfunded mandate is imposed on employers, the money necessary to pay those increased costs must come from somewhere. No matter how desirable the goal, one cannot simply dismiss the cost as unimportant or inconsequential.

I also aim to protect the rights of employees to work in safe workplaces where they are treated fairly. When a string of mining accidents exposed the need to improve mine safety laws in 2006, I worked with colleagues across the aisle to pass the first comprehensive reform of mine safety rules in a generation - the MINER Act of 2006.  When it comes to workplace safety, I have promoted the goal of accident prevention through education, training and compliance assistance to help employers and employees understand and follow the best safety practices. While workplace injuries and illness have declined over recent decades, the nation should continue to do better. Workplace safety is one of the most important missions Congress has authorized the Department of Labor, and I will continue to pursue an all-of-the-above strategy. Focusing solely on new regulations and penalties will not solve America’s workplace safety issues.

I will continue to work to preserve the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP), which rewards worksites that go the extra mile to enhance workplace safety. Worksites that participate in VPP implement work safety programs that go above and beyond standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and maintain lower than average work-related illness and injury. By maintaining lower than average work-related illness and injury rates, workplaces can save money and let OSHA focus their inspection and enforcement efforts where they will be most efficient.   I have sponsored legislation that will ensure that businesses are able to continue to participate in VPP in the years to come.

In the United States, every employee has certain rights such as the right not to be discriminated against due to race, color, religion, national origin, age or disability. Most employees also have the right to form a union or, in the state of Wyoming, not be forced to join a union in order to work at a particular workplace. I strongly support the preservation of the secret ballot in union elections so that employees may vote on whether or not to join a union freely and without undue influence from any quarter. Similarly, I oppose proposals to impose collective bargaining contracts on employers or restrict the ability of an employer to exercise free speech on his own property. Labor and employment laws should maintain a fair balance to sustain viable workplaces.

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