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Julian Castro

Castro's Plan to Protect Domestic Workers

The plan includes major changes to labor laws protecting immigrant workers

Brian Young's picture
Oct 07, 2019

Over the past few months, UCOMM has reported on the labor plans of many of the major candidates (and some who have dropped out) for President. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg all have plans to eliminate right to work, strengthen unions, and raise wages for working people. Now former Texas Congressman and HUD Secretary Julian Castro has released his plan.

Like many of the other candidates, Castro is calling for the passage of the Workplace Democracy Act and the PRO Act, which would strengthen unions' ability to bargain and would eliminate Janus and right to work laws. His plan would also require publicly traded companies to set aside 1/3 of their board seats for workers that are directly elected by the non-managerial workforce. Castro also wants to advance the use of sectoral bargaining, which would allow workers to bargain across the industry instead of with just one employer. This is a similar situation to how the UAW bargains with the big 3 automakers.

While his policies are similar to other candidates, he does stand out with his focus on domestic and farmworkers. In his plan, Castro recalls the stories that his immigrant grandmother told about the struggles she endured as a domestic worker. The stories obviously stuck with him, because he has released a complete policy paper on the issue. Some of his plans include passing a Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, which would allow them to get paid overtime, end the exclusion from anti-harassment and discrimination laws, and ensure that they get simple protections like lunch breaks. Castro is also calling for protections of workers who report crimes or labor violations.

Often domestic workers face massive repercussions for standing up for their rights. Employers can not only fire them, but many non-US citizens are threatened with ICE being called if they speak out. Castro wants to strengthen these protections so that victims of workplace-related crimes are eligible for U and T-visas which would give them a status in the United States and prevent ICE from being wielded as a weapon of bad employers.

Castro has also released a detailed policy on expanding farmworker rights. If elected, Castro plans to rewrite the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act to include farm workers. He also would allow them to receive overtime pay protections and create and enforce strict health and safety standards to protect these workers against heat exhaustion, pesticide exposure and poor air quality due to natural hazards or wildfires. In keeping in line with Castro’s policy to give farmworkers full legal rights, he would also end the exclusion of agricultural labor from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and prohibit bosses from using ICE to intimidate workers who are organizing, striking, or in a dispute with their employer.

Even in 2019 child labor is still a problem in the agricultural sector. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) agriculture accounts for over half of all child labor deaths. Kids as young as 12 are allowed to work in the fields. As President, Castro wants to pass the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety, which would bring the agricultural industry in line with those of nearly every other sector of the economy in regards to child labor laws.

Like other front runners, Castro’s policies reflect a vision for some of the workers that are most forgotten about. For more on Castro’s Worker First policies please click here.

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