Presidential Candidate Releases Workers Bill of Rights
Yesterday, Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley released a “Workers Bill of Rights for the 21st Century.” While we’re neither endorsing nor refuting O’Malley’s views and proposals, the bill’s articles serve as a strikingly concise portrait of a constituency to which many of us belong. Each article awards the right to a solution for a specific issue making life harder for American workers. (O’Malley’s original version includes proposed solutions.)
I. The Right to Balance Work and Family
Out of 185 countries, just three don’t ensure paid family leave: Oman, Papua New Guinea, and the United States. Childcare expenses are also a major headache for families.
II. The Right to a Predictable Weekly Schedule
Companies’ erratic and ever-changing work schedules have made personal and family scheduling nightmarish.
III. The Right to Full-Time Work
Companies often prevent part-time workers from working more hours by hiring additional part-timers instead.
IV. The Right to Overtime Pay For Overtime Work
As people work more hours to meet company needs, overtime pay can no longer be counted upon.
V. The Right to Earn a Living Wage
The current Federal minimum wage is keeping many working Americans in poverty.
VI. The Right to Bargain Collectively For Better Wages
Unions that protect workers may be in need of protection themselves.
VII. The Right to Retire In Dignity, Not Poverty
A decent retirement is becoming harder to achieve, with elder poverty a growing worry.
VIII. The Right to Equal Pay For Equal Work
There’s still a gender gap, and employers’ desire to keep wages secret allow them to pay people different amounts for the same work.
IX. The Right to Affordable Health Care
Many still struggle with health care coverage. In addition, workers’ health care rights are often assessed by the amount of services rather than their quality.
X. The Right to a Quality Education and Debt-Free College
Quality education isn’t yet available to every child in America, teachers are undervalued, and middle-class families struggle to afford college for their children.
XI. The Right to Read Trade Deals Before Our Congress Votes On Them
This should really go under a senator or representative’s Bill of Rights, since it addresses their unhappiness surrounding the secrecy of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty that may have a major impact on American workers.