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Al Franken on Jobs

DFL Jr Senator (MN)

 


2005: Fined $25,000 for failing to insure workers

On Franken's miscues on tax payments, "Franken Faces Penalties for Lack of Workers' Insurance," screamed a Minneapolis Star Tribune headline on March 5. Franken owed a twenty-five thousand dollar penalty to the New York State Workers' Compensation Board for failing to carry workers' compensation insurance for employees of his corporation from 2002 to 2005.

News reports said the Workers' Compensation Board began sending notices to Franken as early as April 2005 after discovering that the insurance hadn't been paid for nearly three years. Penalty notices went unanswered and unpaid. The candidate for the working man wasn't paying his worker's comp insurance, the bloggers screeched. This man wants to be a senator?

Source: This Is Not Florida, by Jay Weiner, p. 71 , Sep 16, 2010

Preserve occupational safety and prevailing wage laws

Not only will I vote for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), I’ll proudly co-sponsor it. This bill would make it easier for employees who want to organize to do so without harassment or intimidation, and would reform a labor relations system currently dominated by corporate interests. I’ll fight to preserve the integrity of our occupational safety and prevailing wage laws.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.AlFranken.com, “Issues” , May 14, 2008

I’m a member of four unions

The Writers’ Guild of America (WGA), the Directors’ Guild of America (DGA), the Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG), and the American Federation of Television and Radio Actors (AFTRA). My family and I get our health benefits from AFTRA, and our prescription drugs through the WGA. I’m also an associate member of the Steelworkers.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.AlFranken.com, “Issues” , May 14, 2008

A hard day’s work should earn a decent day’s pay

Minnesota’s working families got a much-needed raise this year when the Democratic Congress followed through on its promise to raise the minimum wage. But life continues to grow riskier for middle-class families. Organized labor is one of the last defenders of America’s working class; we must support workers’ right to organize. Even as we work to provide economic security for today’s working families, we should act now to ensure that a lifetime of hard work earns a secure & comfortable retirement.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.AlFranken.com, “Issues” , May 14, 2008

Form unions by card-check instead of secret ballot.

Franken signed H.R.1409&S.560

Amends the National Labor Relations Act to require the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to certify a bargaining representative without directing an election if a majority of the bargaining unit employees have authorized designation of the representative (card-check) and there is no other individual or labor organization currently certified or recognized as the exclusive representative of any of the employees in the unit.

    Requires that priority be given to any charge that, while employees were seeking representation by a labor organization, an employer:
  1. discharged or otherwise discriminated against an employee to encourage or discourage membership in the labor organization;
  2. threatened to discharge or to otherwise discriminate against an employee in order to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of guaranteed self-organization or collective bardaining rights; or
  3. engaged in any unfair labor practice that significantly interferes with, restrains, or coerces employees in the exercise of such guaranteed rights.
    Source: Employee Free Choice Act 09-HR1409 on Mar 10, 2009

    Raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2016.

    Franken co-sponsored Minimum Wage Fairness Act

    Congressional summary: Increases the federal minimum wage for employees to:

    1. $8.20 an hour beginning 6 months after enactment
    2. $9.15 an hour beginning 1 year later,
    3. $10.10 an hour beginning 2 years later, and
    4. an amount determined by increases in the Consumer Price Index, beginning annually after 3 years.

    Proponent's argument in favor (RaiseTheMinimumWage.com): The federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour remains decades out of date, and the federal minimum wage for tipped workers--$2.13 per hour--has not increased in over 20 years. The minimum wage of the past provided significantly more buying power than it does today. The minimum wage of $1.60 an hour in 1968 would be $10.56 today when adjusted for inflation.

    Opponent's argument against: (Neil King in Wall Street Journal, Feb. 24, 2014): The CBO concluded that a jump in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could eliminate 500,000 jobs. For Republicans, the report provided ammunition that a higher minimum wage would kill jobs. Democrats pointed to the CBO's findings that the higher wage would lift 900,000 people out of poverty. But both sides missed a key finding: That a smaller hike from the current $7.25 to $9.00 an hour would cause almost no pain, and still lift 300,000 people out of poverty while raising the incomes of 7.6 million people.Congressional Budget Office report:: Once fully implemented, the $10.10 option would reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers, or 0.3%. Some people earning slightly more than $10.10 would also have higher earnings, due to the heightened demand for goods and services. The increased earnings for low-wage workers would total $31 billion. Accounting for all increases and decreases, overall real income would rise by $2 billion.

    Source: S.1737 & H.R.1010 14-S1737 on Nov 19, 2013

    Let Senate cafeteria workers organize their own union.

    Franken signed unionizing Senate cafeteria workers

    Excerpts from Letter from 31 Senators to the Compass Group: Senate cafeteria workers are currently pushing for a union through the majority sign up process, but their employer, the Compass Group, has resisted the drive, even after the NLRB upheld charges against the company regarding discriminatory behavior. Although the Compass Group promised the NRLB they would end further unlawful intimidation, the Compass Group has discouraged their organizing campaign.

    We request there that the Compass Group commit to reaching an agreement with the union seeking to organize these workers, and recognize the union as the worker's exclusive bargaining representative on the basis of majority representation of signed authorization cards.

    OnTheIssues explanation: At issue is how the workers would unionize: the controversial aspect is the "majority of authorization cards," known as "card-check," which makes unionization much more likely.

    Opposing argument: (Cato Institute, "Labor's Day is Over," Sep. 6/2009): Card-check would effectively abolish the secret ballot in workplace elections for union representation. It would also require employers to submit to binding government arbitration if they cannot reach an agreement with union representatives, forcing companies to submit to contracts that may imperil their very survival.

    Opposing freedom argument: (Heritage Foundation, "Card Checks Block Free Choice," Feb. 21, 2007): Union activists argue that publicly signing a union membership card in the presence of union organizers, known as card-check organizing, is the only way that workers can freely choose to unionize. However, with card checks, union organizers know who has and has not signed up to join the union. This allows them to repeatedly approach and pressure reluctant workers. With this technique, a worker's decision to join the union is binding, while a decision to opt out only means "not this time."

    Source: Letter to Compass Group 15LTR-COM on Nov 13, 2015

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