When I am President I will never forget that workers come first, and that our economic policy cannot put corporations before the hardworking men and women of our country. My plan to re-empower workers and revive the American middle-class relies on six lines of effort: Doubling union membership in the US, closing the skills gap, rebuilding our forgotten cities, helping left-behind workers, decentralizing economic opportunity, and strengthening the American manufacturing.
Strengthening Manufacturing Sector:
The United States lost 5.5 million manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2017, and once domestic manufacturing disappears, so will engineering and other high-paying economic sectors. As we look into how we rebuild our manufacturing sector, we need to look to advanced technologies and the maker movement to help increase and create jobs in the manufacturing sector.
Create a Chief Manufacturing Officer: As President, I would establish an office at the White House, headed by a U.S. Chief Manufacturing Officer, to develop and drive a national manufacturing strategy, set goals for production, increase advanced manufacturing, and troubleshoot manufacturing-related issues. The Chief Manufacturing Officer would advocate on behalf of our manufacturing workforce to ensure we do not hurt these workers through the unintended consequences of some policies.
Double Union Membership in the United States:
Less than 11% of wage and salaried workers in the United States are members of labor unions, down from 20.1% in 1983. Meanwhile, studies have shown that workers want to participate and have a voice in workplace negotiations. Throughout our country’s history, unions have helped pave the way for safer working conditions, higher wages, and better benefits. Unions for all industry sectors – healthcare, education, manufacturing, federal government, construction, aerospace, transportation, and more — are the foundation of our economy.
As President, I will make doubling union membership in the United States my top priority:
Make it Easier to Form a Union: Enact legislation called “card check” which would allow any Americans to unionize at their office or worksite if a majority of employees signed authorization cards where they work.
Allow Independent Contractors to Organize: The law should make explicit that independent contractors have the right to organize and collectively bargain.
Make it Illegal to Replace Striking Workers: Enact legislation that would make it illegal for employers to employ permanent replacement for workers.
Ban States from Enacting Right to Work Policies: Right to Work( RTW) laws take away rights from working people. According to studies, 3.1 percent of a worker’s pay decreases when these laws are passed. As President I would enact legislation that would strike provisions in the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) that allow states to enact RTW laws.
Allow Public Sector Employees to Bargain: We need to fight against the Janus v. AFSCME, and enact legislation that would add public sector employees to the NLRA and give them the ability to collectively bargain.
Expanding Registered Apprenticeship Programs:
Studies show that men and women who complete an apprenticeship program earn more than those who don’t. The average salary of an employee who finishes an apprenticeship program is $60,000. But as analysis from the National Skills Coalition show that between 2014-2024, 48 percent of job openings will be for middle-skill needed jobs (which are jobs that require education beyond high-school, but not a four-year degree).
Expanding Apprenticeship Programs: That is why as President I will commit to expanding registered apprenticeship programs around the country, by increasing federal funding for these skills-based education programs. These programs, with unions leading the charge, are some of the best ways to ensure that men and women are prepared for the workforce and have the skills necessary to succeed. They provide on-job training for a wide range of occupations, including manufacturing, construction, healthcare, aerospace, and more.
Increasing Diversity in Apprenticeship Programs: We cannot ignore the major discrepancies when it comes to the amount of women and minorities enrolled in apprenticeships programs throughout the country. According to the Department of Labor, women make up 7.3 percent of those individuals to complete an apprenticeship programs, around 16 percent were Hispanic or Latino and 10.7 percent were African American. As President, I will create a task force at the Department of Labor that prioritizes not only growing apprenticeships, but also increasing the diversity of these programs. This means creating opportunity for long-lasting careers for everyone in the workforce – no matter their gender, race, ethnicity, or age.
Rebuilding Our Forgotten Cities
For far too long our country has lagged when it comes to fixing our country’s crumbling infrastructure, and investing in transportation projects for the 21st Century. The American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that it will take over $2 trillion to fully improve and invest in the infrastructure around the country.
As President, I will prioritize an infrastructure package that makes long-term investments in transportation projects in every community in this country. One of my first steps in pushing a long-term infrastructure package will be to create and fund a National Infrastructure Development Bank. This bank would be modeled after the banks we have seen throughout the world to leverage public and private dollars to finance infrastructure and transportation projects.
It is time as a country we start to look to the future when it comes to infrastructure spending in our country.
Fix our Transportation Systems: Increase funding for our highways, airports, ports, railroads, and just general local transportation improvements.
Move our Cities and Transportation Systems into the 21st Century: Increase investments to make our cities more walkable, build bike lanes and trails, renovate historic theaters, build municipal pools and playgrounds, create infrastructure to promote urban agriculture, construct river walks, and invest in affordable housing. This plan would also include funding to make sure every community has access to full speed broadband.
As President, I would expand clean transportation systems throughout our country. Many cities are already moving to create electric bus fleets and increase public accessibility to electric vehicles. Using tax credits and rebate programs, I will incentivize consumers to purchase electric and plug-hybrid vehicles. We need to triple the amount of these vehicles are on our roads and the amount of charging stations that are available to move our country forward, create jobs, and reduce carbon emissions.
Rebuild Our Communities: My infrastructure proposal would prioritize rebuilding our communities and making them safer for the families that call them home. That means removing the vacant and abandoned buildings and homes from every city in America. Studies have shown that living near vacant homes and lots can lead to adverse public health and social outcomes, it can increase violence and criminal activity.
As President I would create a new grant program and dedicated funding stream to help low-income and rural and urban communities eliminate blight and vacant properties and redevelop this land for public access.
We must also prevent the dangers of lead – by removing the lead-based pipes and lead-based paint in homes and buildings around the country. I would greatly increase funding and expand the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control (LHC) and the Lead Hazard Reduction (LHRD) grant programs to remove lead-based paint in privately owned houses. And create a new grant program the Lead-Based Pipe Hazard Reduction which would evaluate and reduce lead-based pipes hazards in priority housing that is private housing, federally owned housing, or public housing.
Helping Left-Behind Workers:
As workers around the country respond to the changing economy from automation and globalization, our federal government must step in to ease the transition and create a job assistance program for every American. Similar to our country’s Trade Adjustment Assistance program and past proposals by President Obama, my proposal would make workers the priority and ensure more employment security.
Decentralizing Economic Opportunity:
Our country must lead the world when it comes to the research and development of new technologies. But as the tech industry continues to create and develop new technologies and jobs that impact our economy and communities, we must acknowledge the geographic disparities when it comes to the job growth created by these companies. Currently, four states receive 80 percent of venture capital dollars, but there are innovators and entrepreneurs throughout the country who are being overlooked because they don’t have the same access to venture capital.
Expand Venture Capital Investment: As President I would establish the Distressed Community Investment Agency (DCIA) within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Through the DCIA, we will be able to strengthen venture capital investment in distressed communities. The DCIA would provide grants and contracts to local governments, companies and private citizens in distressed communities to ensure that the neighborhoods most in need of investment get it.