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Mike Bloomberg

Bloomberg's Plan to Strengthen Labor

The billionaire is calling for an end to right to work and protection for multiemployer pensions

Brian Young's picture
Feb 17, 2020

With former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg spending hundreds of millions of dollars to win the  Democratic nomination, voters across the country are beginning to pay attention to the New York billionaire. While he won’t be on the ballot until Super Tuesday, his poll numbers nationally are rising and have made him a real threat to the frontrunners. As he has jumped to the top tier of candidates, Bloomberg has also begun releasing his policy proposals. Over the weekend, Bloomberg put out his plan to strengthen unions and labor.

In his plan, Bloomberg says:

Workers across the country are struggling. Americans’ purchasing power has not meaningfully increased in the past 40 years, and too few workers receive paid family leave or sick days. Union membership has steadily declined, depriving many workers of a vital voice to advocate for fair wages and benefits and workplace protections. Despite his campaign promises, President Trump has repeatedly turned his back on America’s workers. Mike will protect working Americans, making sure employees have the right to organize, and receive the fair wages, paid family leave and retirement benefits they deserve.

To get this done Bloomberg is proposing raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding overtime protections, requiring 12 weeks of paid family leave and 7 days of paid sick leave, strengthen union protections, empower vulnerable communities of workers to organize, and protecting workers pensions and retirement savings. Bloomberg says that he will restore the Obama administrations Overtime Rule which Trump repealed.

Like the other Democratic frontrunners, Bloomberg says he will prohibit private sector right to work laws. He also will guarantee public-sector employees have the right to join a union and bargain collectively. He also is promising to protect union elections, establish a scheduled process for initial contracts, allow franchise workers to bargain directly with corporate headquarters, and promote sectoral bargaining. Bloomberg is also proposing expanding worker rights to those in the “gig economy” so that they receive full employee benefits and portable benefits that stay with them when they switch jobs.

Regarding helping vulnerable communities, Bloomberg is proposing allowing farmworkers and domestic workers to be covered by minimum wage, overtime pay, and other labor standards. He also will expand workplace harassment protections to cover these workers. Bloomberg also wants to expand workplace protections for undocumented workers “ensuring they can join unions, report labor violations and receive remedies without fear of immigration consequences.”

One of the biggest issues facing union workers is shoring up multiemployer pensions. Bloomberg is pledging to make these pensions solvent and ensuring that workers do not lose their retirement security. He is also promising that everyone who pays into Social Security receives their full benefits.

Finally, Bloomberg promises to reward good labor practices with federal dollars. He says under his administration, contracts will be awarded to companies with strong benefits for workers and a clean record on labor violations.

While Bloomberg’s plan seems good, his record leaves many questions for union workers. During his time as mayor, Bloomberg was a big supporter of charter schools, almost all of which were non-union. From 2003 to 2013 the number of charters increased from 22  to 159. He proposed cutting the number of teachers in half and attempted to replace the detailed contract with the City’s teachers with a simple 8-page contract. When Bloomberg left office at the end of 2013, most of New York’s public-sector unions had been out of contract since 2009.

Bloomberg even wrote the following in the New York Times: “Across the country, taxpayers are providing pensions, benefits and job security protections for public workers that almost no one in the private sector enjoys. Taxpayers simply cannot afford to continue paying these costs, which are growing at rates far outpacing inflation. Yes, public sector workers need a secure retirement. And yes, taxpayers need top-quality police officers, teachers, and firefighters. It’s the job of the government to balance those competing needs. But for a variety of reasons, the scale has been increasingly tipping away from taxpayers.”

Just like Bloomberg will have lots to answer for with the African-American community over Stop and Frisk, he is going to need to answer for a lot of anti-union comments and actions he made while he was on Wall St. and was mayor. While his labor plan is a good start, it is light on details and instead reads more like a hit list of union talking points.

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