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Public Statements

Issue Position: Labor and Living Wage

Issue Position

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Issue Position: Labor and Living Wage

Coming from a working class background, I recognize and applaud the historic significance of unions in building a strong middle class in America. Courageous union activists and organizations worked to end child labor and deliver so many of the benefits we enjoy as workers today, including the 40-hour week, benefits and living wages, among other positive changes.

Despite the tremendous importance of unions, the basic fundamental right to organize unions, bargain freely and strike when necessary is being destroyed by employers and their representatives in government. Today, nearly 1 out of 10 workers involved in union organizing drives is fired illegally. Employers are waging a campaign of fear, threats and slick propaganda to keep workers from exercising this fundamental right. That is why union membership is declining—and as union membership falls, so do the wages of all working people, union and non-union alike. In order to turn the tide back in the favor of the American worker, I support the repeal of any law that prevents unions from organizing new members and bargaining collectively. All employees of federal, state and local governments must have full collective-bargaining rights.

Second, I will work actively to repeal the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which severely restricts the activities of unions in favor of the employers. The right to strike for all workers—including local, state and federal employees—is a fundamental principle of the workers' movement that must be safeguarded. Our government and our laws must guarantee the right to withhold one's labor to all working people, including to those in the military. All scabbing must be banned, and no workers should be fired without just cause.

I also join international and national workers in their struggle to repeal "free trade" agreements. Such trade treaties are designed to depress wages and oppress workers in every country that has signed on to these agreements.

Every worker—whether he or she makes shoes, cars or any other goods—should receive equitable and livable pay and benefits, regardless of the country of residency or employment. Wages and working conditions should be equalized to the highest standards, not the lowest common denominator. That's why I am a strong advocate for fair trade that recognizes workers' rights and enforces these rights through unions and binding collective-bargaining agreements—along with enforceable and sustainable environmental protection.

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