Standing outside the Rock Hill Bakery in South Glens Falls in between shifts of baking bread, Matt Funiciello spoke a press conference to highlight the situation of the millions of working class Americans and the need for serious pro-worker legislation in Congress. Funiciello, the Green Party candidate for Congress in NY-21, said that most Americans had to work on the 4th of July to make ends meet, unlike most other industrialized nations that guarantee paid time off. Candidate Funiciello said, if elected, he would focus on legislating a living wage of $15/hr nationwide, passing single-payer universal healthcare, and a host of other pro-worker bills. Funiciello also mentioned that long-time civic activist Ralph Nader had, on Thursday, endorsed his campaign.
"The United States is the only country of 21 developed nations that doesn't mandate employers provide paid vacation time to full-time employees. The Center for Economic and Policy Research did a study and found the other 20 nations mandated at least 6 paid holidays a year, while as Americans we receive none. At least six countries -- including Australia, Italy, Ireland, New Zealand, Greece, and Switzerland -- require full time employees to be given four weeks paid leave time. 23 percent of full-time and 65 percent of part-time workers in the US get no paid vacation days at all. Americans work hard, and they deserve paid time off, starting with national holidays like the 4th of July, to celebrate with their families and communities without worrying whether they can pay the bills at the end of the month. As a Congressperson I would introduce a bill mandating paid holidays off like the rest of the developed world and a month of paid vacation time," said Funiciello. "Paid workers on vacation would spend money in local communities, aiding the economy and reducing unemployment with their spending. They would return to work happier, and healthier, than before."
"The campaign is also committed to a $15/hr national living wage and single-payer universal health care. These two pieces of pro-worker policy would lift millions out of poverty, kickstart a stagnating economy, and give all Americans access to quality healthcare. Wages for most Americans have been stuck in neutral for decades, with the lion's share of growth going to the 1%. By passing a $15/hour minimum wage, we make sure full-time workers get paid at least $28,800 a year. That leads to real,wage-led growth: workers spend their money locally, meaning more businesses hire and the economy expands, and because the tax base grows and we have fewer people who need social services, we all benefit. In countries where workers at McDonald's make $15/hr (Australia) and $21/hr (Denmark) the price of a Big Mac is barely a dollar more than here; in fact experts say an increase in wages might increase prices a few percentage points. Wouldn't you pay a dollar more to make sure everyone has a decent wage?"
"Finally, we need to pass HR 676 and enact Medicare-For-All in the United States. As Ralph Nader, who endorsed my campaign yesterday, and others have been arguing for decades, single-payer universal coverage would reduce costs by at least 50% and cover everyone with quality healthcare. We pay $8160 per capita for healthcare, twice as much any other nation, and 60 percent of healthcare spending is already publicly financed through taxes. The Affordable Care Act is one of the most savage anti-worker pieces of legislation in decades, crafted by the Democratic Party and the insurance industry as a corporate welfare plan. A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund showed the US dead last amongst developed nations in healthcare, behind the UK with its fully socialized NHS. Why can't the United States have the best, most affordable healthcare system in the world, one that helps working Americans rather than hurting them?"
"We need a Worker's Declaration of Independence. On this Fourth of July, I call for Liberty and Justice for all," concluded Funiciello.