WORKER EMPOWERMENT AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
We cannot achieve economic prosperity if we do not level the playing field between employee and employer. Our society and our government must give equal respect to everyone involved in the economy. With the consolidation of private corporations, however, employees have fewer options.
This growing disparity in economic opportunity is a result of expanding automation, the elimination of full-time jobs in exchange for fewer hours, contracting and a “gig” economy, as well as the decline of unions. Guaranteed jobs and fair wages can combat these, but outside of these employees should have control over their own jobs.
Currently, corporate boards make all the key decisions on outsourcing, automation, and contracts with zero input from their employees. With such unchallenged power corporate boards are able to pay CEO’s 300 times the average wages of their employees and benefit their stockholders with no concern for the welfare of their employees and their community.
To ensure a fair say for employees, non-managerial employees, elected by their peers, should make up half the members on corporate boards. Then and only then will employees be able to participate equally in the key decisions that determine how corporations will affect them, their families, and their neighbors.
In Congress, I will fight to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. However, ERA and current legislation alone will not ensure women are paid the same wages as men for the same work. The women most disadvantaged are women of color and low income who are shunted into low-paying jobs where their voices are actively suppressed, sexual harassment remains unchecked, and wages are poverty-level. That is why we need strong workers’ rights so that women have the bargaining power required to challenge inequities in the workplace and hold employers accountable, as well as diversity in leadership so the decisions that determine working conditions, spending, and shareholder investments serve the interests of workers, in particular, women.
Collective bargaining over wages and working conditions is essential to fairness for employees. With elected representatives who unite workers and have the strength to negotiate we can prevent employers from saying “take it or leave it.”
And this will be good for businesses, big and small, because it enhances the purchasing power of employees, allows business to draw upon the creativity, knowledge, and initiative of their employees, and enables employers to be fair to their employees without putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage.