Labor & Pensions
Unions fought for all of us to have a forty hour work week, healthcare benefits, time off, safe work place and many more critical benefits. When unions are strong, all workers benefit. We must strengthen workers’ right to join a union and have a voice. Strong labor rights, including the ability of workers to collectively bargain for pay and benefits, as well as robust enforcement of federal labor law, are critical to building a middle class that provides workers with pay commensurate with the value of their labor. Unfortunately, many of these protections have been weakened in recent years, and as a result, income from middle-class Americans has remained stagnant. From 1980 to 2014, income for the bottom half of income earners grew by one percent. Addressing this issue is key for building an economy that works for all Americans.
I’m proud to be a cosponsor of H.R. 2474, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act of 2019 – which passed the house in February 2020. This bold, comprehensive legislation strengthens unions and the American workforce by protecting union elections from employer interference, requiring employers to negotiate with newly elected unions, ensure employees can’t be misclassified as supervisors or independent contractors, invalidate state “right-to-work-for-less” laws, and stiffen penalties for violations of workers’ rights. This type of bold effort is exactly what we need to strengthen our labor laws for the 21st Century.
Protecting pensions that workers have earned is one of my top priorities of Congress. Pensions represent a promise to working Americans; if you work hard and play by the rules then you will be able to have a secure retirement. Unfortunately, this dream may soon be out of reach for many Americans unless Congress acts soon. We must continue to fight to protect the benefits that American workers have earned through a lifetime of labor and commitment. Pensions provide critical income security that allow workers to stay in their homes and afford medical care, and we cannot allow that to be jeopardized. American workers have done their part, now it’s time for Congress to act which is why I have championed the Butch Lewis Act in passing the House to help troubled pension plans get back on solid footing.
I’ve also been working to ensure we’re creating and keeping good paying jobs in Michigan. Too often Congress forgets the challenges working women and men are up against. We need to target the fundamental challenges working families deal with every day by raising wages, creating good-paying jobs, fighting back against outsourcing, lowering the cost of living, reducing the price of prescription drugs and giving working Americans the tools to succeed in the 21st Century.
The easiest way we can do this is by raising the minimum wage. Simply put, there is no place in America where a full-time worker can live on $7.25 an hour, let alone support a family. That is why I was a leader, sponsor and proud to vote in support of the Raise the Wage Act, landmark legislation that would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 over six years. A study released by the Economic Policy Institute found that an increase to the minimum wage would affect over 104,300 people in Michigan’s 12th Congressional District. It has been over 10 years since there has been an increase in the federal minimum wage – the longest stretch in history. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Raise the Wage Act would lift 1.3 million Americans out of poverty, including 600,000 children. The time to act is now.
I’ve also focused a lot of my time to thinking about how workers can continue to compete in the age of increasing automation. The future of work is more uncertain than ever, and we need to act now in order to preserve good-paying American jobs going forward. I was proud to join my colleagues Congressmen Mark Pocan, Mark DeSaulnier and Donald Norcross in drafting a report titled the Future of Work, Wages and Labor. Our labor policies simply must keep up with the rapid changes the 21st Century has brought. We travelled the country hearing directly from workers. They told us the decline in collective bargaining, worker representation and the ability to form unions doesn’t just hurt workers, it hurts our communities and our economy. Strong and updated labor laws are a necessity to fight income inequality, make the American dream accessible to anyone willing to work hard, and codify workers rights for the future. This is what the report is all about and I encourage you to read it here.