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Issues

Labor

A strong economy and nation depend on jobs that provide safe working conditions, fair and living wages (out of poverty), and benefits for all workers, with hourly wages indexed to the cost of living. Every worker must have the right to organize and bargain collectively to determine their pay, benefits, and working conditions. Democrats believe organized labor is essential to the social, economic, and political health of our democracy. The decline of real wages over the past three decades, accompanied by powerful anti-union political attacks, intensifies the need for the protective efforts of a strong union movement.

“No one who works full time should have to live in poverty.” – President Barack Obama

We believe:

  • Workers are dedicated, industrious and competitive;
  • Workers deserve respect and a living wage; we define a living wage as the wage necessary for a person working forty hours a week, with no additional income, to afford decent housing, food, utilities, transport, and health care;
  • Workers must have a safe and harassment-free work environment that meets state and federal standards;
  • Workers’ right to organize, join a union, enjoy due process, and bargain collectively, in order to have a living wage, without any interference, intimidation or threats from employers or the government, shall not be abridged or denied;
  • Workers have the right to a General Strike;
  • Workers must have retirement and health benefits that are portable between employers;
  • Workers need to have better access to education and training in order to be competitive in a world market of jobs;
  • Workers wages should be commensurate with increases in productivity;
  • Workers, public as well as private, must participate in the government social security program.

We call for:

  • Prevailing wage laws for work under government contracts; and/or for government purposes;
  • “Best Value Contractor” policies and “Fair Contracting” with “Responsible and Responsive” bidder language in all public work jobs that include contractor responsibilities for prevailing wages, health insurance, retirement and training and to include a performance audit “
  • Area standards for wages and benefits;
  • State approved apprentice utilization, and a percentage local hiring clause where qualified workers are available on government agencies funded, financed, or involved in projects;
  • Unemployment insurance that is supported and extended when economic conditions warrant;
  • Workers compensation managed and monitored by the state;
  • Unemployment and retraining benefits for workers laid off or locked out by their employers, including those whose jobs are outsourced, downgraded, or eliminated;
  • Protection of overtime pay;
  • The automatic recognition of a union based on signatures of a majority of those represented, “Card Check” as a legitimate method for unionizing.
  • A workers' bill of rights that includes rights of assembly, association and free speech, due process, freedom from discrimination; and democracy within unions;
  • Equal participation between labor and employers in the management of workers’ pensions;
  • Competitive and commensurate wages for all workers, whether they are private sector, non-profit, or state and local government employees;
  • Veterans, women, people of color, people with disabilities and sexual minorities earning equal compensation for equivalent work;
  • Safe and adequate housing, medical care and sanitary facilities for all workers, including temporary, migrant, seasonal and contract workers;
  • Paid sick leave for both private and public employees in shops of more than four employees;
  • Withholding federal contracts from United States corporations that choose to locate “offshore” for tax shelter purposes;
  • Support for working families with special programs such as day care and flextime to care for family members;
  • Child labor standards that limit the hours youths are allowed to be employed during the school year.
  • A federal minimum wage that is indexed to inflation;
  • Respecting picket lines by not crossing them;
  • Workers negotiating agency fees or “Fair Share” clauses into labor agreements;
  • Government and private industry to recover and make available to the workers medical and industrial hygiene records related to all workers so that they are paid just compensation for any injuries or illnesses incurred during their employment or as a result of their employment;
  • Employers who force workers to work off the clock should be prosecuted;
  • Union-restricting labor laws and so-called "Right to Work" laws should be repealed;
  • Official unemployment statistics should include persons who are underemployed or have given up looking for work, or whose benefits have been exhausted;
  • Strengthening, fully funding and staffing the National Labor Relations Board and the imposition of meaningful penalties on employers engaged in unfair practices;
  • Preference for Washington State residents on public works projects;
  • Market based compensations for public employees;
  • Buying American; the use of U.S. products in manufacturing and in construction;
  • Rescinding the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 so that the postal service may return to fiscal soundness;
  • Expanded and more effective “whistle blower” protection for all workers at all levels on all public and private jobs with access to courts and protection from retaliation;
  • Re-examination of Taft-Hartley and other existing anti-union legislation, to strengthen workers’ rights;
  • Full employment; a guaranteed job for all.

We oppose:

  • “Right-to-work” and other anti-union legislation;
  • Any attacks on the Davis-Bacon Acts, prevailing wage laws.
  • Exploitation of seasonal, temporary, migrant and contract workers;
  • Corporations using mergers and bankruptcy courts to abscond with workers’ pensions;
  • Under-funding of pension liabilities by either the private or public sector;
  • Foreign trade agreements, such as the Transpacific Pact (TPP), that put the interests of corporations above the rights of workers , environmental protections, and that overrule the authority of federal, state, and local governments;
  • Using tips as part of a minimum wage calculation;
  • Use of permanent replacement workers during strikes;
  • Supplanting or displacing public employees with low-wage, low-benefit contract employees or prison labor;
  • The unilateral redefining of workers as independent contractors to reduce labor costs, rendering workers ineligible for benefits and other protection;
  • The decline of real wages over the last four  decades;
  • The privatization of workers compensation;
  • Firing without just cause;
  • Public employee pension reductions by the legislature;
  • Balancing the public budget with pension funds;
  • Gratuitous attacks by elected officials’ upon labor organizations, public and private employees;
  • Any attempt to privatize the social security retirement system.

Resolutions