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Bernie Sanders' Plan to Double Union Membership

The Vermont Senator has released a plan to reshape the union landscape in just four years

Brian Young's picture
Aug 21, 2019

Throughout his long political career, Senator Bernie Sanders has been a friend of labor. That should come as no surprise since he built his political career as a Democratic-Socialist fighting for inequality issues like a $15 minimum wage and Medicare for All. Now Sanders has released an ambitious plan that, he claims, will double union membership within his first term.

The plan, which the Sanders’ campaign released on Wednesday before a speech at an AFL-CIO event in Iowa, makes it easier to join unions, bans right to work, and bars companies from hiring scabs to replace striking union workers. He would also require federal contractors to pay a $15 minimum wage and stop working with ones who outsource jobs or discourage workers from joining a union. Sanders believes that through this plan union membership will double by January 2025, the end of his first term.

While the plan is ambitious, it would be a major turnaround after decades of membership losses and anti-union legislation passing through Congress. Sanders believes that a turnaround in union membership will help to address one of his biggest talking points; the rising inequality between the rich and the poor.

“Today, corporate profits are at an all-time high, while wages as a percentage of the economy are near an all-time low. The middle class is disappearing, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider and wider.

There are many reasons for the growing inequality in our economy, but one of the most significant reasons for the disappearing middle class is that the rights of workers to join together and bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions have been severely undermined.”

Some other highlights from Sanders plan include:

  • Provide unions the ability to organize through a majority sign up process, allowing the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to certify a union if it receives the consent of the majority of eligible workers.
  • Enact “first contract” provisions to ensure companies cannot prevent a union from forming by denying a first contract.
  • Under Bernie’s plan, companies will no longer be able to ruthlessly exploit workers by misclassifying them as independent contractors or deny them overtime by falsely calling them a “supervisor.”
  • Make sure that employers can no longer use franchisee or contractor arrangements to avoid responsibility and liability for workers by codifying the Brown-Ferris joint-employer standard into law.
  • Give federal workers the right to strike.
  • Make sure every public sector union in America has the freedom to negotiate.
  • Require companies that merge to honor existing union contracts.
  • Protect the pensions of workers.
  • Stops corporations from forcing workers to attend mandatory anti-union meetings as a condition of continued employment.
  • Establish federal protections against the firing of workers for any reason other than “just cause.”
  • Create a sectoral collective bargaining system with wage boards to set minimum standards across industries.
  • Guarantee the right to unionize for all workers.
  • Allow for secondary boycotts.
  • Expand and update the persuader rule.
  • A fair transition to Medicare for All

The full plan can be read by clicking here.

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