The Blog

My Message to the DNC's Platform Drafting Committee

The goal for all working families remains a secure, sustainable job and a real improvement in our standard of living. Here's how we get there.
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The goal for all working families remains a secure, sustainable job and a real improvement in our standard of living. Here's how we get there.

Number 1: Restore real bargaining rights.

CEOs today earn 300, 400 or even 1,000 times as much as frontline workers, most of whom haven't had a real wage increase for more than three decades. The 1 percent is doing better than ever, but working families really haven't recovered from the Great Recession. One major reason for this is the continued attack on public and private sector workers who want to stand together and create a better workplace for themselves and their co-workers.

Union members have a voice on the job. They have bargaining rights. However, fewer working people than ever have the chance to join a union because they face harassment by companies who use fear and intimidation to stop them.

The National Labor Relations Act declares that collective bargaining is the policy of the United States.

On paper, maybe. In practice, not at all. Thousands of workers have been fired, and tens of thousands more intimidated by managers whose goal is to block workers' legal right to a union voice and bargaining rights.

But when working people can make a fair choice, when management agrees to remain neutral in organizing campaigns, when legislation like the Workplace Democracy Act, introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Mark Pocan and supported by leading Democrats is in force, the promise of bargaining rights becomes a reality.

The Workplace Democracy Act would make majority signup, or card check, an option for workers to choose a union. The legislation also would prohibit companies from refusing to seriously bargain a first contract, with provisions for binding arbitration.

CWA knows firsthand that when working people can choose union representation without a management attack campaign, they do so. At AT&T Mobility, where the company has agreed to remain neutral in union organizing, 55,000 workers - just about 100 percent of all eligible workers - have joined CWA. The first place that workers signed up at AT&T Mobility was in Jackson, Mississippi.

Number 2: Stop the economic handout to the 1 percent.

Big money in politics, pushed by 1 percent, is corrupting our democracy. We need real limits on political contributions and we need to expand small-dollar public financing for campaigns. I come from New York where there is a publicly financed six-for-one match for donations in New York City elections. It works. That's how candidates become more responsive to voters. That's how we get "money out, voters in."

Our economy is rigged against working people who play by the rules, and working people know it. Established companies are sold, jobs are slashed and sent offshore, communities face a tremendous loss of tax revenue yet the hedge fund managers and dealmakers just get richer.

Members of my union just ended a seven-week strike at Verizon. They were forced to strike because this $100 billion company kept insisting on cuts in jobs and compensation, all because the company valued Wall Street over the frontline technicians and customer service representatives who are the source of the company's productivity and profits. Because these workers have bargaining rights, we were able to secure good jobs and improve their standard of living.

We must enact policies that end taxpayer subsidization of runaway Wall Street greed and make Wall Street pay its fair share of taxes. We need to break up the big banks and enact a 21st Century Glass-Steagall to create a more robust banking system. We must close the carried interest loophole, which allows hedge fund managers to pay a lower tax rate than working people, and end the taxpayer subsidies for outrageous corporate executive pay by closing the performance pay loophole.

We must join the rest of the advanced financial economies of the world by passing a robust Financial Transaction Tax that deters risky high speed trading and provides adequate revenues. Half steps are not enough. And we should establish public banking through the U.S. Postal Service.

Number 3: Adopt a new model for trade policy.

Working people have seen more than 20 years of trade deals bargained by and for multinational corporations. Despite countless promises, each successive deal was worse than the last, resulting in millions of lost jobs in the United States. The Trans-Pacific Partnership extends the worst components of deals like NAFTA.

CWA supports a fair trade model that includes enforceable rules against currency manipulation and requires countries to adopt and enforce strong labor and environmental protections before we enter into trade agreements. And that ensures that workers, consumers and environmentalists can enforce provisions of our trade agreements using the same mechanisms being made available to investors in the current TPP. A fair trade policy can't only be about investment rights. It needs to be about workers' rights too. The TPP is not fair trade policy. The DNC must reject it.