Today’s News & Commentary — October 4th, 2019
Democratic Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren released a sweeping labor plan yesterday aimed at returning economic and political power to working people. Senator Warren’s plan centers ambitious proposals to expand labor rights and strengthen the right to organize—including by promoting sectoral bargaining, amending federal labor law to allow fast food workers, child care workers, and more to “band together and bargain alongside labor organizations to improve wages, hours, and working conditions on an industry-wide basis.” A core part of Warren’s proposal is her ground-breaking Accountable Capitalism Act, which would require that large American corporations let workers elect no less than 40% of workers on corporate Boards—strengthening worker power over the corporate decisions that shape their lives about wages, benefits, outsourcing, and more.
Senator Warren also pledged to extend federal labor and employment protections to farmworkers and domestic workers; end worker misclassification; adopt a broad “joint employer” standard under both the NLRA and the FLSA; narrow the definition of “supervisor” in the NLRA, which cuts many workers out of unions; guaranteeing public sector workers the right to organize; and amend the NLRA to ensure it fully protects undocumented workers from exploitation. Her plan also includes a wide range of proposals to strengthen organizing rights, including banning so-called state “right-to-work” laws, adopting card check, protecting and strengthening the right to strike, using the procurement process to promote good union jobs (including by requiring federal contractors to pay a minimum wage of $15 an hour), fixing anti-trust laws to protect gig workers, broadening the NLRB’s enforcement authority, and more. Senator Warren also pledged to ban a wide range of coercive contract provisions, including no-poach clauses, non-compete agreements, and forced arbitration, guarantee fair scheudling practices, and adopt a wide range of ambitious protections against workplace discrimination. You can check out the full proposal here.
And Warren’s labor platform is popular, according to new polling from Data for Progress. DFP surveyed key components of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren’s labor plans and found broad support from Democrats—and even “net positive support among independents and Republicans.”
The Trump Department of Agriculture is giving chicken slaughterhouses—including some with long records of serious accidents harming workers—special permission to speed up their processing lines, increasing “risks to employees already working in dangerous conditions.” Workers in the chicken industry face even higher rates of injury than workers at coal mines or construction sites, according to ProPublica—often “surrounded by harsh chemicals and spinning blades.” When factories increase line speeds, poultry workers that struggle to keep up the work pace may be subject to traumatic injuries. Despite these risks, and despite the fact that workers have died due to safety violations at the plants ProPublica investigated, the Department of Agriculture is giving these plants special permission to speed up the lines.