Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke on Thursday announced his plan to boost labor unions and workers, dubbing it his “21st Century Labor Contract.”
In the sweeping plan, Mr. O’Rourke promised to increase wages, expand job training and end workplace discrimination.
“We need to be there for workers across this country who have always been the engine of our economy,” he said. “We need to keep up the fight for $15 an hour to ensure that one job is enough — and no one needs to work a second or third job to support themselves and their families. Only then can we build an economy that finally works for everyone in this country.”
Mr. O’Rourke, a former House member from Texas, rolled out the plan following his participation in the Iowa AFL-CIO Convention on Wednesday.
He returned to the traditional campaign trail in Iowa after diverting his run a series of Southern states that he said had been “terrorized” by President Trump.
The detour was part of a campaign reboot following the mass shooting Aug. 3 in his hometown of El Paso, where a gunman linked to a white supremacist manifesto killed 22 people.
After entering the race as a top contender and then tumbling, Mr. O’Rourke continues to struggle in the low single digits in polls. He has qualified for the third Democratic presidential debate next month in Houston.
The O’Rourke campaign described his new deal for workers as a contract between workers, employers and the federal government. The contract promised that workers:
• Will be able to join a union if that’s what they want;
• Will get paid a living wage regardless of industry;
• Will need just one job to take care of their family and have time for a fulfilling life outside of work without sacrificing economic security;
• Will be hired and paid based on what they do — not who they are;
• Will have access to the training they need in a changing labor market; and
• Will have access to a fair labor market.
Mr. O’Rourke said rebuilding unions, which have been on the decline for decades, was the key to increasing pay and living standards in the U.S.
“The decline of unions is both a symptom and cause of our rigged political system. Unions have always been among the best political advocates for working people — union and non-union alike — and provide a check against corporate interests capturing and corrupting our democracy,” he wrote in a post on the Medium website that detailed the plan.
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