Commentary | Unions and Labor Standards

Farewell to a progressive crusader

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The Board and staff of the Economic Policy Institute mourn the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who for five decades tirelessly pursued our goal of broadly shared prosperity for all Americans.

Senator Kennedy’s goals and achievements in his Senate career were, of course, far broader than economic policy or labor policy and included, among others, a sensible and just foreign policy, greater civil rights and civil liberties for all Americans, and a fair and effective system of criminal justice.

But we have been fortunate and proud to work closely with Senator Kennedy for two decades to maintain a decent minimum wage, to protect the rights of workers to join unions and bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions, and to preserve the right to overtime pay and a 40-hour work week.  In the past several years, EPI has worked with Senator Kennedy on two of his other lifelong concerns: a welcoming and generous immigration policy and affordable, quality health care for all Americans.  It saddens all of us that the Senator did not live to see his dream of universal health care come true, but we pledge to do all we can to make that dream real.

We will always be grateful for the time he spent with us, the kindnesses he showed us, and the use he made of our work. Senator Kennedy inspired us all by his hard work, his concern for others, his love of democracy, and his faith in a better future.  We will miss him, as will the nation. Our thoughts are with his family and his staff.