SAN DIEGO (CN) — Walking onstage as the sun set on San Diego Bay Thursday and loudspeakers played Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5,” Democratic presidential contender Senator Elizabeth Warren shared personal stories with California voters about financial troubles her family faced and how her labor plan could help others like her.
“When I was a girl, a full-time job in America would support a family of three,” Warren said recounting how her family faced financial strife, losing their station wagon and facing possible foreclosure on their home after her salesman father suffered a massive heart attack and was out of work.
But Warren, D-Mass., said her mother, who was 50 years old and had never worked outside the home, got a full-time minimum wage job answering phones at Sears. “That minimum wage job saved our house and saved our family,” Warren said.
On the day she released her labor policy plan this week, Warren was endorsed by labor-backed California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, whose aggressive bill aimed at ensuring protections for gig economy workers was recently signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Gonzalez called Warren’s policy plan, “the best labor worker plan I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” when she introduced the presidential candidate to a crowd of thousands of San Diegans gathered at the downtown Waterfront Park.
When Warren came on stage she said Gonzalez’s AB5, which will take effect Jan. 1, will improve the lives of California workers.
“We’re going to see millions of gig workers here in California live a little more secure lives,” Warren said.
Warren said her family’s story — and others like it — was not only a story about “fighting for those you love,” but about government.
“If there is a decision to be made in Washington, it has been made by money. That is corruption, and that’s why I’m in this fight,” Warren said.
Saying structural changes need to be made to the economy, Warren cited her policy promise released Thursday to help strengthen unions.
“We need more power in the hands of workers, (to) make it easier to join a union and give unions more power when they negotiate,” Warren said.
“Unions built America’s middle class and unions will rebuild America’s middle class.”
In her policy plan, Warren said she’d use a “card check,” which allows unions to be certified if a majority of employees vote for it, and both sides would be required to reach a bargaining agreement within 120 days of negotiating.
Local politicians would be prohibited from intimidating workers into not unionizing.
Sectorial bargaining — when people in the same position, such as fast food workers, organize — would be protected in joining together across companies to negotiate.
Warren’s first visit to San Diego since announcing her candidacy in February comes as she leads polls of California voters, ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden by 1 point in the most recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California — well within the margin of error.