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United States Senator Edward Kennedy - (1/6/2010)

As time marches on and the seasons change, the August death of United States Senator Edward Kennedy may already seem like a distant memory to so many. However, the impact of Senator Kennedy’s advocacy upon working Americans will continue to last for decades to follow.

While Kennedy was born into wealth, he never lost sight of his working class family roots.  Consequently, his entire political career was dedicated to advocacy for working men and women; the hallmark of Kennedy’s Congressional tenure was the pursuit of social and economic justice for all American people.

What set Senator Kennedy apart from many other elected officials is his empathy.  While others claim they understand the plight of the American people, Senator Kennedy walked picket lines with union protesters.  He walked the walk and understood our plight.

Throughout his lifetime, Senator Kennedy was a leading proponent of a fair minimum wage.  In fact, during the 47 years that he served in Washington, Kennedy advocated for 16 wage increases, the last of which benefited 13 million workers when it was approved in 2007.

Senator Kennedy also understood that workers have families.  When a family member is sick, he/she must be attended to.  He understood that contemporary families have different complexions and compositions, and he comprehended the financial impact of the death of the working head of household.  With that knowledge and understanding, Senator Kennedy introduced the Working Families Flexibility Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and issued a report documenting the failure of workplace safety.

As his illness manifested itself, and death loomed before him, Senator Kennedy spent his remaining days fighting fervently for the American worker.  He reintroduced a bill to protect the right of workers to organize and join a union and fought for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.  In typical, selfless Kennedy style, the senator was fighting for his own life while fighting for the health of every man, woman and child.  In one particularly poignant speech, Senator Kennedy said, “I won’t stop until every American has the same quality health care as every member of Congress—Republican and Democrat – and the President of the United States.”

May we as a group continue on the path forged by this humble public servant and remain unrelenting in our pursuit of economic justice for the American worker.


Author of Article ~ Rick McAuliffe, The Mayforth Group


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