Warren Shoulders Labor Fight in New Policy Stance

(CN) – Returning power to working people, Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren said on Thursday, will be “the overarching goal of my presidency.”

Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks on Sept. 3, 2019, in Hampton Falls, N.H. (AP photo/Elise Amendola)

Churning out her second policy plan in as many days, Warren emphasized that wages have stagnated, union representation has decreased, and CEOs and managers have more than their share of money and influence. 

She promised to sign an executive order on her first day in office to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 for all employees, including tipped workers. 

“We cannot have a truly democratic society with so little power in the hands of working people,” Warren wrote. “We cannot have sustained and inclusive economic growth without a stronger labor movement.”

Her agenda has five goals: extending labor rights to all workers, strengthening organizing, raising wages, increasing worker choice and control, and expanding worker protections.

Pledging to nominate pro-worker judges to federal courts, Warren also complained about the failure of federal labor laws to cover domestic or farm workers, a shortfall she vowed to change.

“Some of these exclusions date back to objections from Southern segregationist politicians in the 1930s, who did not want these workers (in many cases, disproportionately women and people of color both then and still today) to have basic worker protections,” Warren wrote (parentheses in original). “These exclusions hurt millions of workers and have no justification.”

Warren’s plan would also keep companies from intentionally misclassifying workers as independent contractors, a practice made famous by ride-share giants Uber and Lyft. She would also pass legislation to protect workers at franchise and subcontract locations of corporations like McDonald’s, in opposition of a rule proposed by the Trump administration that would let McDonald’s avoid the employer classification in connection to its many franchise locations. 

She would strengthen the right to strike, broaden the definition of “supervisor” and classify graduate students as employees so both groups could unionize, as well as allow freelancers in the “gig” economy to unionize.

Warren said she’d also make sure federal workers are paid through government shutdowns, while also fighting for the rights of undocumented and home health workers. 

To strengthen the rights of unions, Warren said she will employ a “card check,” which allows unions to be certified if a majority of employees vote in favor, and would require both sides to reach a bargaining agreement within 120 days of negotiating. She would prohibit local politicians from intimidating workers into not unionizing.

“We will make sure that affected workers know the federal government will protect their rights, and we will take every step possible to prevent federal resources from being used by state or local government to intimidate or coerce workers who are exercising their rights under federal law,” Warren’s plan states.

She would also protect sectoral bargaining, or when people in the same position, like fast food workers, join together across companies to negotiate. 

She’d defend pensions, strengthen overtime pay rules, and require large companies to let workers elect board members, as well as work to prohibit forced arbitration agreements in employment contracts. 

Warren also wrote she would strengthen rules that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender, race, disability and sexual orientation during the hiring process.

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