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Elizabeth Warren

Warren: Banning Right to Work

Senator Elizabeth Warren has released her comprehensive plan to strengthen labor

Brian Young's picture
Oct 04, 2019

In our continuing series on the labor positions of the Democratic Presidential Candidates, we now are focusing on Elizabeth Warren. The Senator from Massachusetts has rocketed in the polls in recent weeks, having caught both Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden in some polls, so her unlike some of the Democratic candidates, her plans actually have a chance to be implemented.

Warren’s labor plan, which was released this week, focuses on five goals:

  • Extending labor rights to all workers
  • Strengthening organizing, collective bargaining, and the right to strike
  • Raising wages and protecting pensions
  • Increasing worker choice and control
  • Expanding worker protections, combating discrimination, and improving enforcement

To extend labor rights, Warren is proposing extending basic protections to farmworkers and domestic workers. This means that both groups would be covered under the National Labor Relations Act and would allow them to organize. She also proposes ending the misclassification of workers as independent contractors, adopting a broad joint employer standard, narrowing the definition of "supervisor" so that more workers are entitled to organize and collect overtime pay, and she promises to classify graduate students as employees, overturning a recent Trump decision.

For public sector workers, Warren wants to enact the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act. This act would ensure that public employees have the right to organize and collectively bargain in every state. Warren also is planning to repeal all of Trump’s executive orders that limit federal unions' ability to represent their members. She would also require federal contractors to pay a $15 minimum wage and would stop doing business with contractors who have poor labor records or who have busted unions. In Warren’s plan, she also calls for the complete prohibition of right to work laws which would repeal the law in 28 states. She also is promising to adopt card check and pass the PRO Act, which would help to speed up union elections and limit employer influence.

Warren also wants to strengthen the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). To do this, Warren wants to broaden the board’s enforcement authority by giving them the power to impose compensatory and punitive damages on employers who break the law, give them greater authority to seek force employers to bargain with unions, and give them the power to force an employer to hire back a worker who has been fired for union activity. Warren also wants to legalize craft unions, which are smaller units of workers doing a similar job within a larger workforce. The NLRB in 2011 created this distinction, but Trump’s NLRB has banned them.

In terms of strike protections, Warren is proposing banning the hiring of permanent scabs and allowing workers to participate in repeated short-term strikes. She would also eliminate the secondary boycott restriction. Warren also wants to curtail employer lockouts by trimming back that laws that give employers broad authority on calling a lockout.

Warren’s full plan can be read by clicking here.

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