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Harris: A Friend of Labor

She has a 100% voting record from the AFL-CIO and has been fighting for years for workers

Brian Young's picture
Aug 12, 2020

On Tuesday, August 12th, California Senator Kamala Harris made history when she was selected to be Joe Biden’s presumptive Vice-Presidential nominee. The selection would make Harris the first Black and first Asian nominee for Vice President and if elected she would be the first female Vice President.

Since Harris was selected, many unions have released statements congratulating her and talking about her labor record. In the four years, she has been a Senator, Harris has racked up an impressive record on labor. She holds a lifetime rating from the AFL-CIO of 100%. Some of the issues that she worked on included creating a fairer process for forming a union, co-sponsoring the PRO Act, and proposing a repeal of Right to Work. She was also a co-sponsor of Bernie Sanders Medicare for All bill. During the COVID-19 crisis, Harris was a loud voice pushing for the Department of Labor to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard and enforce OSHA rules. Other votes that stood out for the AFL-CIO included voting against Trump’s anti-labor picks for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), is one of the few Democrats to vote against the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, which weakened financial regulations put in after the 2008 financial collapse. Her position on the Judiciary Committee also allowed her to vote numerous times to oppose anti-union judges that Trump was nominating to the court for lifetime appointments.

“We know Senator Harris will continue her relentless advocacy to ensure that we win for working people in 2020, address deepening inequality and work to unrig the rules of our economy so that everyone, not just the wealthy and privileged, can thrive,” said Lee Saunders, President of the American Federation of State, County, & Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

Before Harris was elected to the Senate, she served as California’s Attorney General. In this position, Harris was a national leader in protecting consumers from the big banks following the Great Recession.   She created the Mortgage Fraud Strike Force and refused to settle with big banks in 2012 over the mortgage and foreclosure crisis. This increased the payout to people affected from $2 Billion to $18.4 billion in debt relief and $2 billion in other financial assistance for homeowners in California. Harris then worked with legislative leaders to write and pass the strongest protections in the nation against predatory foreclosure tactics.

Harris also prosecuted several wage theft cases including a case against eight car washes that resulted in a $1 million settlement for the 1,205 workers. She then established a joint agreement between the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and the California Attorney General’s office that facilitated information sharing to enhance the enforcement of labor violations. “Wage theft is a crime that hurts our economy and robs hard-working Californians of their livelihoods,” said then-Attorney General Harris. “This agreement allows our agencies to better investigate and prosecute those who exploit workers and deny them the pay and benefits they deserve. I thank the Department of Labor for their partnership and commitment to protecting the rights of workers.”

Harris also pursued cases against various financial giants who had misrepresented the sale of mortgage-backed securities leading to huge losses for the state’s public employee and teacher pension systems. Her work recovered nearly $1.2 billion from some of the largest banks in the country and helped to stabilize the pension funds. During her campaign, Harris also proposed giving teachers a $13,500 pay raise.

“From standing up to big banks, to facing down the gun lobby, to fighting for the LGBTQ community, to rallying for justice in policing, Harris knows where she stands and she isn’t afraid to fight for it,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. “She was one of the first national leaders to support our educators when they went on strike in Los Angeles last year, and the first major proposal of her presidential campaign was a monumental plan to pay teachers more.”

In a Joe Biden / Kamala Harris ticket working people have two people who have a history of fighting for working people and unions.

"Workers need leaders who put their interests first, fighting for retirement security, affordable health care, and strong labor rights,” said United Steelworkers President Tom Conway. “We are confident that Sen. Harris, like Vice President Biden, will continue to prioritize these important issues. Now, more than ever, our country needs strong leadership. Together, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris offer us a choice to put our country back on the path toward stability and shared prosperity."

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