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Democratic Candidates for 2020: Bernie Sanders Releases Workplace Democracy Plan to Boost Unions, Raise Wages

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, unveiled proposals to increase union membership and raise wages for working people © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Bernie Sanders,in Des Moines ahead of the Iowa AFL-CIO convention, announced a comprehensive plan to at least double union membership during his first term as president, rebuilt the middle class and substantially raise wages. This is from the Sanders campaign:

“Corporate America and the billionaire class have been waging a 40-year war against the trade union movement in America that has caused devastating harm to the middle class in terms of lower wages, fewer benefits and frozen pensions,” Sanders said. “That war will come to an end when I am president. If we are serious about rebuilding the middle class in America, we have got to rebuild, strengthen and expand the trade union movement in America.”

Sanders’ Workplace Democracy Plan would essentially repeal Iowa’s Chapter 20 law that stripped the rights of public sector workers to collectively bargain for better benefits and safer working conditions by giving all public sector workers the freedom to negotiate.

The sweeping proposal to strengthen unions would end right to work laws, give every union worker in America the right to strike and ban the replacement of striking workers.

As president, Sanders also pledged to sign an executive order preventing large, profitable corporations that engage in union busting, outsource jobs overseas or pay workers less than $15 an hour from receiving federal contracts.

The plan would also make it substantially easier to form a union and stop employers from ruthlessly exploiting workers by misclassifying them as independent contractors or denying them overtime by falsely categorizing them as a “supervisor.”

Other key elements of this proposal include: 

  • Requiring companies that merge to honor existing union contracts.
  • Bringing workers, employers and the government together across industries to negotiate wages, benefits and working conditions through sectoral bargaining.
  • Stop corporations from forcing workers to attend mandatory anti-union meetings as a condition of continued employment. 
  • Protect the pensions of workers. 
  • Establish federal protections against the firing of workers for any reason other than “just cause.”

In addition, the plan makes sure that all union workers would be better off under Medicare for All. If Medicare for All is signed into law, companies with union-negotiated health care plans would be required to enter into new contract negotiations overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. Under this plan, all company savings that result from reduced health care contributions from Medicare for All will accrue equitably to workers in the form of increased wages or other benefits.

Read the Workplace Democracy Plan here.