Blueprint: Ensuring Job Security by Protecting Workers

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Blueprint for Economic Security: Upcoming Conference Calls


On Monday, February 14th, at 4pm EST, the Progressive States Network is co-hosting a conference call with the Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform to discuss strategies and share resources for enacting strong state health exchanges. Speakers will include:

  • Iowa Senator Jack Hatch
  • Tim Jost, Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University
  • Sherry Prowda, Director of Communications, Herndon Alliance

On Tuesday, February 15th, at 4pm EST, the Progressive States Network is hosting a conference call on progressive policy solutions and messaging resources aimed at providing job security and boosting local economies. Speakers will include:

  • Daniel Gotoff - Partner, Lake Research Associates
  • Donald Cohen - Director, Cry Wolf Project
  • Doug Hall - Director, Economic Analysis Research Network

You can RSVP for these calls by clicking here


Blueprint: Ensuring Job Security by Protecting Workers

Workplace Standards for Families   *   Tim Judson


Ask voters in any state what single issue concerns them the most, and the answer is likely to be the same: the economy and jobs. More than two years removed from a crisis that caused the greatest economic downturn in generations, Americans with a job still feel as vulnerable as ever, while those out of work through no fault of their own worry every day about finding an increasingly scarce commodity: a good job that will allow them to provide for their families.

Pair this with a tide of conservative victories on Election Day 2010, and American workers face evermore insecurity in their jobs as an all-out assault on workers’ rights in state legislatures across the nation ensues in 2011. But while conservatives view this moment as an opportunity to roll back labor standards that people fought and died for decades to establish, progressives know that now is the time we must do exactly the opposite.

At this historic moment, advancing measures that promise true job security -- protections that will stabilize the economic security of families, put more money in consumers’ pockets, and allow state economies to grow -- must be an essential priority for progressives in states across the nation.

While the electoral math may have made it more difficult to advance legislation to defend workers’ rights in many states, defending against anti-labor measures will not be enough to counter the Right. As conservatives shout misleading claims that their anti-worker proposals will inspire business confidence and economic growth, progressives must reveal these measures for what they are -- ideologically-inspired attacks that will lead to more job losses.

But to win back the hearts and minds of the nation, we must also demonstrate that we have better ideas for how true job security can ensure the economic security of the vast middle-class and working-class majority in this nation ,who have so far been left out of the economic recovery.

In fact, history shows that advancements in workers’ rights were a major factor in America’s recovery from the Great Depression, providing economic security for working families and making progress towards fulfilling the promise that everyone who is willing to work has the means to support their family. Progressives can continue this tradition by forcefully advocating for the job security policies outlined in Progressive States Network’s 2011 Blueprint for Economic Security: Paid Sick Days so that no worker risks losing a job just because they or a family member gets sick, cracking down on Wage Theft by unscrupulous employers stealing billions of dollars from hard-working Americans, and Restoring the Minimum Wage to ensure that no one who works full-time has to live in poverty.

Despite the onslaught of anti-worker measures in many states, strong legislation to advance workers' rights will also have its day in 2011, building upon what already exists in some states across the country. In fact, Connecticut is poised to make history by enacting the first state-wide Paid Sick Days law. Massachusetts will also move a strong Paid Sick Days bill, which has the support of the Governor and majorities in both chambers. Oregon has introduced a package of bills to strengthen Wage Law Enforcement. Maryland and Illinois are both advancing ambitious bills to Restore the Minimum Wage -- raising the wage to $10 per hour, and adjusting it annually for inflation. And California is advancing a bill to adjust the minimum wage annually for inflation.

Click on the links below for much more on the policy solutions that progressive legislators and advocates across the nation are advancing in 2011 to ensure true job security for families -- and real economic security for states.

Paid Sick Days


There is no such thing as economic security when anyone can lose their job simply because they get sick. Yet that is precisely the case for millions of working families because we lack a basic labor standard for paid sick leave. Not having a paid sick days standard is a devastating threat to people’s economic security when one in six people lose their job for taking sick time.

Just as we established other major labor standards in the 1930s to help lift us out of the Great Depression -- such as the minimum wage and the right to join a union -- we must take the opportunity now to improve the economic security and health of American workers. Doing so improves the health of workers, but also the health of those around them, by reducing the spread of illnesses that drive health care costs up.

Progressives can use paid sick days as an effective counter to calls to roll back labor standards and workers’ rights. As conservatives argue that public sector workers must sacrifice pay, benefits, pensions, and even their right to join a union in order to “level the playing field” with private sector workers, paid sick days is a powerful platform from which to call out regressive efforts to accelerate a race to the bottom for all workers.


Cracking Down on Wage Theft


For millions of working people across the country, having a job provides little economic security because their employers routinely refuse to pay them the wages they are owed under the law. Antiquated and ill-enforced wage laws have made it common for employers -- particularly in low-wage industries with low unionization rates -- to illegally withhold pay from their employees.

These violations deprive families of their economic security, the economy of crucial consumer spending, and state and local governments of tax and other revenues -- while increasing the demand for public assistance and taxpayer-funded services.

Wage law enforcement legislation provides progressives with a strong platform for pushing back against anti-labor measures, as well as unbalanced public sector job and program cuts. Every year, states lose millions of dollars in revenue to corrupt employers who are dodging employment, income, worker compensation, and unemployment insurance taxes. In several states, revenues lost to tax-dodging employers amount to hundreds of millions of dollars.


Restoring the Minimum Wage


Job security necessitates raising wage standards, so that those who work full-time are able to earn enough to rise out of poverty. Employers too frequently count on the expendability of underpaid workers, requiring them to depend on public services for health care and income assistance, and unfairly increasing the cost to everyone else.  Raising the minimum wage also benefits businesses plagued with costly high turnover rates by helping them attract and retain qualified staff.

Raising wage levels is critical to everyone’s job security and to building a stable economy. To rebuild the middle class, we have to raise the wage floor to create a strong foundation of consumer spending and promote business expansion while ensuring workers can provide for the basic needs of their family.

The minimum wage enjoys near-universal support, and large majorities are almost always in favor of increasing it. Restoring the minimum wage is an instant revenue generator for state and local governments, and can help to change the debate on pension cuts and efforts to repeal wage standards in government contracts.


Steps Forward


US: Obama to propose some debt relief for states in budget

VA: Legislature votes 95-3 to implement health care exchanges, despite AG leading lawsuit

AZ: Anti-14th Amendment bill fails to gain votes needed to pass committee in AZ State Senate


Steps Back


WI: Anti-economic growth policies of Gov. Walker helped sink high-speed rail for entire region

US: ALEC seeks to dismantle EPA protections state-by-state through bills written by energy industry


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The Stateside Dispatch is written and edited by:

Nora Ranney, Legislative Director
Marisol Thomer, Outreach Director
Devin Boerm, Health Policy Specialist
Fabiola Carrión, Broadband and Green Jobs Policy Specialist
Cristina Francisco-McGuire, Election Reform Policy Specialist
Tim Judson, Workers' Rights Policy Specialist
Suman Raghunathan, Immigration Policy Specialist
Altaf Rahamatulla, Tax and Budget Policy Specialist
Mike Maiorini, Online Technology Manager
Charles Monaco, Press and New Media Specialist
Ben Secord, Outreach Specialist

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