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Elizabeth Warren on Jobs

 

 


Workers earning $7.25 cannot keep above poverty line

March 2013 was our first hearing on the minimum wage. For close to four years, the federal minimum wage had been frozen at $7.25 an hour. The rate was already low by historic standards, and a lot of workers were sinking. Minimum was is just that--the minimum.

I'm pretty hard-core about this issue. The way I see it, no one in this country should work full-time and still love in poverty--period. But at $7.25 an hour, a mom working a forty-hour-a-week minimum-wage job cannot keep herself and her baby above the poverty line. This is wrong--and this was something the U. S. Congress could make better if we'd just raise the minimum wage. We could fix this now.

Source: This Fight is Our Fight, by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, p. 7-8 , Apr 18, 2017

How to advance when "flex work" requires 24/7 availability?

Employers have invented new models to eliminate fixed schedules & benefits. They classify workers as subcontractors, or gig workers. Today, millions of hardworking people live in a world in which their schedules shift from day to day, and they take whatever work is available. The much-touted virtues of the "flexible workforce" are undoubtedly true for some workers under some conditions. But to get a sufficient number of hours, workers need to be available--which comes at a cost.

How does the guy in the stockroom sign up for auto-repair classes at a nearby vo-tech school if McDonald's won't give him his schedule more than a week in advance? Working two or three jobs is an economic necessity for them as they try to support their families, but with shifting hours in most places, it's hard for them to piece together schedules that will let them show up when called. Some say they look for all-night cleaning jobs so they can have their days free to take second and third jobs.

Source: This Fight is Our Fight, by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, p. 28 , Apr 18, 2017

Republican majority could ring death knell to unions

I was thinking about all workers, union and non-union. I was going over the numbers in my head, all of which showed that when union membership goes up, all workers do better, whereas when membership drops, they all do worse. I was thinking about how unions expand benefits for all workers, how unions show up in Washington and in state capitols to fight for the bread-and-butter issues that make a difference for all working families.

For decades, Republicans had been fighting unions on virtually every issue that touched working people--the minimum wage, paid family leave, fair scheduling laws, access to affordable health care, Medicaid, Medicare, and on and on. Republicans had also assaulted unions head-on by trying to shut down the National Labor Relations Board, which deals with companies that violate labor laws, and by attacking the Department of Labor's efforts to protect unions.

Source: This Fight is Our Fight, by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, p.242 , Apr 18, 2017

Make it easier for workers to organize

We need to make it easier for workers who want to organize to have the chance to do so. If people want to work together for better wages, for better health care, and for better working conditions, they should have the right to do so.
Source: Quotable Elizabeth Warren, by Frank Marshall, p.106 , Nov 18, 2014

Minimum wage workers haven't gotten a raise in 7 years

Minimum wage workers haven't gotten a raise in seven years, and today nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. Mothers of very young children disproportionately work low-wage jobs in every state in the country. A minimum wage job no longer keeps a mother and baby above the poverty line, yet Republicans continue to block legislation to raise the minimum wage.
Source: Quotable Elizabeth Warren, by Frank Marshall, p.158 , Nov 18, 2014

Before CFPA, banks themselves chose bank regulators

Big banks had perfected the art of circumventing new laws designed to protect people. More than a dozen federal laws already addressed consumer credit, but enforcing these laws was spread out among 7 different federal agencies--7! Moreover, not a single one of those agencies had as its primary job protecting consumers from dangerous credit products. Not one.

And there was another ugly problem: Guess who picked the regulators who had oversight responsibility for the individual banks? Often it was the banks themselves. The results shouldn't have surprised anyone: regulators often tried to outdo each other to be the friendliest, which shifted their role from watchdog to lapdog.

So credit regulation was a tangled mess, and enforcement was spotty at best. We needed an agency--one agency--that would be responsible for writing new rules, for updating the rules as lenders changed their practices, and for enforcing the rules. [That became the CFPA, Consumer Finance Protection Agency, chaired by Warren].

Source: A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren, p.133-4 , Apr 22, 2014

Unions fight for their workers; not like corporate lobbyists

The way I saw it, unions had helped build America's middle class. They fought for better wages and reasonable hours. They fought for safer factories. They fought for pensions and retirement security. They fought for health care coverage. And every one of those benefits spread to other workers--union and non-union--which made the whole middle class stronger and more secure. And when the squeeze was on, unions showed up to fight for Social Security, for Medicare, for a higher minimum wage, for equal pay for women. They fought for the values that keep us strong.

Often enough during the campaign, I would hear the phrase "corporate and labor influence in politics," as if "corporate" and "labor" were somehow two sides of the same coin. Really? Does anyone believe that an army of lobbyists fighting for tax loopholes and special breaks for one corporation is the same as the unions fighting for Social Security and equal pay?

Source: A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren, p.260 , Apr 22, 2014

Say the word long and loud: "Union!"

Unions across the country were losing ground, as fewer workplaces were unionized. But unions were also losing ground politically. More than one president of a local union told me that other politicians would come to them for money and endorsements. But when they left the union hall, those same politicians spoke only in code, never saying the word "union" in their speeches. I think it mattered that in speeches and rallies and roundtable discussions, I said the word, long and loud: "Union!"
Source: A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren, p.260 , Apr 22, 2014

Social Contract: Americans don't become wealthy in isolation

Warren rejects the concept that it is possible for Americans to become wealthy in isolation. "You built a factory out there? Good for you," she says. "But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did."

She continues: "Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."

Source: By Lucy Madison on CBS News , Sep 22, 2011

Make it easier for workers who want to organize

We need to make it easier for workers who want to organize to have the chance to do so. If people want to work together for better wages, for better health care, and for better working conditions, they should have the right to do so.
Source: 2012 Senate campaign website, www.elizabethwarren.com , Sep 15, 2011

Hardworking families are the real economy

If you're asking me if all hope is lost, the answer is no. Right now Congress has finally stepped up and is taking this up. They're winning. They're starting to act. Now, Wall Street's back in business and, boy, so are the lobbyists. They are thundering through Washington in numbers that we've never seen before. So yeah, it's going to be a tougher lift than it would have been six months ago. But that doesn't change the reality. And that is: Congress is moving and they are going to write a set of new rules. The only question is, will those rules be written to benefit ordinary, hardworking families, what I think of as the real economy. But will those rules be written to benefit a handful of giant financial institutions.
Source: YouTube: NWO Economics Series, video BZWY4LJ789Y , Apr 1, 2010

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

Warren 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.

Warren 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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