Our country runs on workers, and current policies don’t reflect what people deserve. Paying the bills, keeping the lights on, saving for retirement and college: these are the tasks that Americans face every day. That is why some of the most crucial work I do as a Member of Congress relates directly to helping everyday Americans secure employment opportunities.
From nurses to cashiers, lawyers to servers, every contribution to America’s workforce is valuable and should be treated as such. There’s no excuse to pay people a wage that they can’t live on, or to pay people less because of their gender, race, or disability status. Wage equity protections and a minimum wage increase are long overdue.
We know that when workers are unionized, they are paid more, receive better benefits, and work in safer conditions. Still - union membership in America is at a historic low. We need to address loopholes which allow companies to intimidate their workers out of joining unions, while facing minimal consequences for their exploitation.
The pandemic has made pre-existing economic inequities all the more apparent. Millions lost their jobs, while essential workers risked their lives by simply going to work. Many are still unemployed and hardly anyone’s job looks the same as it did before the pandemic. As we reckon with the effects of COVID-19 on our country, we need to consider how we can better protect peoples’ jobs and livelihoods moving forward.
Almost every aspect of our lives are tied to our work, from the places we can afford to live to the amount of time we get to spend with our loved ones. Pension plans and Social Security must also be protected, so that when people are ready to retire, they know they can afford to. Americans deserve so much more than today’s labor protections. That’s why I’m proud to cosponsor several pieces of legislation to protect workers’ rights this Congress:
H.R.603, The Raise the Wage Act of 2021 would gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the course of four years. Additionally, it would increase wages for tipped workers and for workers with disabilities. Currently, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, it is legal to pay disabled employees as little as $1 an hour. Wages have not kept up with increasing productivity these past several decades, leaving many low and moderate income families struggling.
H.R.423, The Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 (EPPRA) would protect workers and retirees from failing multiemployer pension plans. This legislation would enable the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to partition struggling plans, and simplify application processes for plans seeking help from the PBGC. In the long-term, this will help ensure that when people are ready to collect their pensions, the money is there and ready for them.