REWRITING THE RULES OF THE ECONOMY TO BUILD A BETTER FUTURE FOR WORKERS
Congress should pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act so that all working people have the freedom to join together and negotiate with their employers for better wages and working conditions. The latest research shows that falling union density has been a direct cause of rising inequality over the past five decades. Unions reduce inequality during times of high density by bringing workers within our ranks and by raising standards. for nonunion workers beyond our ranks. When unions are strong, they set wage standards for entire industries and occupations. They make wages more equal within occupations. They close pay gaps between white workers and workers of color. They bring living wages to low-wage jobs. They raise wages for women overall and in female-dominated occupations. Unions turn bad jobs into good jobs.
Yet for too long, employers have been able to violate the National Labor Relations Act with impunity, routinely denying workers their basic right to join with co-workers for fairness on the job. In the 116th Congress, Rep.
Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced the PRO Act (H.R. 2474, S. 130 6) to guarantee that workers have the freedom to form unions and negotiate for better pay and working conditions under a modernized and strengthened NLRA.
In addition to imposing penalties on companies and individual corporate officers who violate the law, bringing the NLRA's remedies in line with other workplace laws, the PRO Act guarantees bargaining rights for workers who are misclassified as independent contractors and establishes a process for helping newly organized workers achieve a first contract. It also ends "right to work" laws and protects the right to engage in secondary picketing and to strike without being permanently replaced.
Bills to protect the freedom of public service workers, including teachers, firefighters and sanitation workers, to join together in a union were also introduced in the 116th Congress. The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act (H.R. 3463, S. 1970) and the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (H.R. 1154, S. 1394) would guarantee collective bargaining rights for public employees in every state at every level of government.
● Would you co-sponsor and vote for the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (H.R. 2474, S. 1306)?
Yes, I support workers’ rights to organize and strike; and I would oppose any infringing legislation.
● Would you co-sponsor and vote for the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act (H.R. 3463, S. 1970)?
Yes. All workers should have the right to organize.
● Would you co-sponsor and vote for the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (H.R. 1154, S. 1394)?
● Would you co-sponsor and vote for the Workplace Democracy Act sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (1-Vt.) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), legislation that would permit workers to form unions through a process known as majority sign-up, or "card check," and establish first contract mediation and arbitration?
Yes. The Act states: “There is no doubt that union membership is good for workers. According to data released in early 2015 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union workers’ wages are 27 percent higher than for nonunion workers. 79 percent of unionized workers receive health insurance from their employers, compared to only 49 percent of nonunion workers. 76 percent of union workers have guaranteed defined-benefit pension plans, compared to only 16 percent of nonunion workers, and 83 percent of union workers receive paid with sick leave compared to only 62 percent of nonunion workers. Today, corporate profits are at an all-time high, while wages as a percentage of the economy are near an all-time low. The middle class is disappearing, nearly 47 million Americans are living in poverty, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider and wider. There are many reasons for the growing inequality in our economy, but perhaps the most significant reason for the disappearing middle class is that the rights of workers to join together and bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions have been severely undermined.”
Congress should help ensure full employment. Another building block of worker bargaining power is "full employment," or tight labor markets that produce jobs for pretty much everyone who wants to work. Full employment puts upward pressure on wages for all workers, but especially for workers of color. It makes it easier for workers to organize unions, and for unions to grow and reach bargaining agreements.
Full employment makes it easier for workers who lose their jobs to transition to another good job. Yet full employment does not just happen; it is a policy choice. It depends on the Federal Reserve, the institution that sets monetary policy, allowing unemployment to fall and wages to rise without deliberately slowing down the economy and putting people out of work in order to prevent unemployment from falling "too low" and wages from rising "too high." Full employment also requires public investment that boosts demand and creates jobs. Yet America's infrastructure continues to crumble, falling to 25th in the world, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, costing millions of jobs and hindering economic growth.
● Would you advocate for appointments to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors who are committed to full employment-measured by real wages growing at least as fast as productivity?
● Would you support and advocate for an approach to budget and taxes that focuses on the needs of working families-by raising significantly more revenue over the long term from big corporations and the wealthy so we can make the investments we need in infrastructure, education and well-paying jobs for working people?
Yes. This is the only fair form of taxation; especially given that corporate waste accounts for 71% of environmental pollution. It is proper and equitable that billionaires and multi-millionaires pay their fair share of taxes. Wealth accumulation has been at the cost of many human lives and working families deserve safe, clean and reliable benefits to retire in good health and provide for their families. We can’t rely on race to the bottom tax strategies, that significantly put the entire national tax burdens and healthcare costs on workers alone. Large corporations and the wealthy, for the most part, pay little to no taxes. This tax strategy has failed to produce the promised trickle-down of wealth, prosperity, retirement, healthcare, opportunity, investment growth, workplace democracy, pensions, equality and other benefits to millions of hardworking and law-abiding citizens.
● Would you support significant levels of increased funding for large-scale infrastructure projects, such as school modernization, water and energy systems, and transportation—including highways, public transit, airports, ports and rail-necessary to bring our nation's infrastructure to no less than a B+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers, and that would generate good jobs?
Yes. I further support policies like the RECLAIM Act to transform Kentucky from coal production and corporate exploitation into clean-energy powered, environmentally safe lands where people can work and raise children without fear of medical crises, air pollution, species loss, job insecurity, poverty, food insecurity, homelessness, addiction, unfair pay and constant stress. I support federal job guarantees and infrastructure projects that would make my homeland thrive, instead of least likely to survive. Citizens must prioritize the care of those who build, defend and protect American structures. I strongly support and advocate for infrastructure investment, and the American commitment to skilled labor. I support enhancement of Davis-Bacon provisions, and do not support legislation intended to weaken prevailing wage protections for workers.
The RECLAIM Act would grant miners access essential healthcare, fairer pay for their work and secure retirement funding while also employing thousands of Kentuckians in efforts to restore damaged land and water resources. MTR causes contamination to groundwater, streams and the air around topped mountains, resulting in lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases, and the loss of fish and other wildlife. In 2016, federal laws required mining companies to monitor and restore the more-than-500 mountain regions impacted by MTR, but McConnell and Trump got rid of the Stream Protection Rule early in the Trump administration. Such rules will need to be back in place to protect Kentuckians.
In 2018, McConnell neglected The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund tax, allowing it to revert to 1978 levels; then the rate was extended for just one year. Now the rates are set to expire in December of 2020 without government action to extend care. Communities impacted by coal production deserve consistent support, not political rhetoric. Central Appalachia is facing a regionally unique rise in black lung disease, younger miners are getting sicker at higher rates and the region has a rate of infection double the national rate for coal miners with similar years of exposure. As coal runs low, miners face increased levels of fine silica dust exposure leading to more severe forms of black lung disease, such as PMF.
Since the 1870’s, Kentucky’s coal fueled the nation’s growth at the cost of our citizen’s health and land. Corporations and land agents in the 1900’s paid low prices to Kentuckians in exchange for rights to land that produced billions of dollars in profits for them, not us. They left, and they left Kentucky taxpayers and injured workers with a toxic mess to clean up. Mitch McConnell stood by corporations, not union workers, the past 34 years, allowing mining companies through the 1980’s and 1990’s to hire non-union workers. In turn, Kentucky’s miners became powerless to demand safe conditions, fair pay and adequate long-term financial and healthcare assistance. Kentucky has been under attack by greedy and powerful interests too long, and the costs to heal people and environments are increasing day-by-day.
The AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation is a great example of how trade unionists can improve communities by investing in local infrastructure and completing the projects within the labor movement. This is monetary proof that our investment in infrastructure as a nation can create strong and vibrant union communities, if the workers completing the jobs and the contractors bidding on the work are pro-union.
● Would you support efforts to expand “Buy America” coverage, eliminate waivers and exemptions, insist on a domestic supply chain for national defense production, and strengthen local procurement standards?
Yes. The US Military employs over 40K Kentuckians and the Department of Defense spends about $5B in Kentucky procurement contracts and about $35M million in Kentucky grants annually. Communities across the Commonwealth would benefit from local infrastructure investment projects, especially if also protecting workers and communities while transitioning to more innovative, energy-efficient, safe and conscious environmental strategies in line with the Green New Deal and similar legislation.
● Would you fight for a national manufacturing policy based on public investment in new technologies, maximizing the advantage of our energy abundance, the domestic production of clean energy goods, and an expectation of rising pay?
Yes. I fully support this. While Clean Energy would be a huge boon to the Building Trades, it would also mean many other areas of potentially new bargaining units as well – further strengthening our local economies. In addition to our crumbling roads, one of the concerns I hear frequently about is the lack of internet in rural parts of Kentucky. Installing fiber, for example, through public utilities instead of private corporations, could be a very low-cost and high-yield strategy to improve the lives of millions of Kentuckians. I also endorse policies guaranteeing internet as a human right and public education funding to innovate learning and pay teachers appropriately, no less than $60K per year and improve retirement security for all people with Medicare for All and social security expansion.
● Would you support targeting federal workforce development funding on high-quality jobs and high-road employers?
Congress should protect and strengthen worker protections. The failure to update and strengthen worker protections, and to defend them from attack, has been a significant factor undermining worker bargaining power and lowering worker living standards in recent decades.
● Would you support federal and state legislation to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour—with indexing and parity for tipped workers?
Yes, I also do not feel that will be high enough by the time legislation catches up to the needs of working Americans. I support legislation that mandates the removal of unfair service-industry offset systems used by employers to avoid paying living wages.
● Would you support federal and state legislation to codify the Obama administration's overtime rule and guarantee overtime eligibility for workers making less than $51,000 per year by 2021?
● Prevailing wage laws, which have helped maintain wage standards and guarantee high-quality work on projects using taxpayer money, have come under greater attack as corporate interests have increased their power in Congress. Would you oppose efforts to weaken or repeal the Davis-Bacon Act? Would you oppose efforts to weaken or repeal the Service Contract Act?
Yes and Yes; I oppose the repeal or weakening of Davis-Bacon Act and/or McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act protections because these prevailing wage laws ensure workers are paid fairly for their labor. History proves that corporations will seek to cut payroll expenses unless employees are protected.
● Would you support efforts to ensure that Section 13(c) transit labor protections and other applicable rail labor standards apply to all federal programs, including all "innovative finance initiatives"?
Yes, Section 13(c) of the Federal Transit Act and Davis-Bacon have led to good labor-management relations and stability in the transportation industry.
● Would you oppose efforts to undermine the use of project labor agreements?
● Would you protect public-sector employees' pay, rights and benefits when special interests push privatization and contracting-out schemes?
● Would you support legislation and budget resources to end the misclassification of employees as contractors?
Yes, the contractor classification has been abused. I see this often in legal industry jobs and regarding my clients’ employment claims and concerns. The “gig-economy” should not permit corporate interests to override human rights, worker rights, fair pay, organizing rights, access to the courts and other federal guarantees.
● Would you oppose further federal pay freezes and benefit cuts for federal employees?
● Would you oppose legislation to take away just cause protections, support restoration of just cause protections for Veterans Affairs employees, and support an enduring and objective civil service system with fair pay, benefits and working conditions for civil servants?
● Would you oppose efforts to weaken the Jones Act, which requires U.S.-flagged, -built and -crewed ships between U.S. ports?
● Would you support enforcement of the terms and conditions of our open skies agreements, including labor protections?
● Will you support legislation to prevent the spread of "flag of convenience” air carriers and will you support administration efforts to ensure current and future entrant air carriers do not violate open skies agreements or public interest requirements as provided for under Title 49?
Congress should help rewrite the rules of the global economy. U.S. global economic policies have promoted the economic interests of multinational corporations over those of working people in the United States and overseas, contributed to the deindustrialization of America, and put downward pressure on wages. America's workers repeatedly have raised their voices against poorly designed trade rules, such as those enshrined in the North American Free Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. Now the Trump administration is urging Congress to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, its proposed replacement for NAFTA, but the USMCA contains many of the same flaws that made NAFTA a disaster for working people, including:
Weak labor standards and a lack of effective enforcement tools.
No requirement that Mexico first show it is able to implement promised labor reforms before receiving the benefits of the deal.
Complete lack of effective rules against currency manipulation; and
Excessive monopoly protections for Big Pharma that will lock in high pharmaceutical costs, harming workers in all three countries.
● Would you oppose the USMCA or any future trade deal that fails to include strong and enforceable labor standards, strong rules of origin to incentivize investment and job creation in the United States, and clear language protecting the government's right to adopt “Buy America” procurement rules?
● Would you support efforts to strengthen enforcement of trade agreements?
● Would you support legislation allowing for the application of countervailing duties to address currency manipulation?
Yes, and I believe it is improper for Congress to avoid legislating this matter whilst permitting executive agencies to unilaterally act on matters affecting international economic policy and trade relationships without congressional oversight. According to Congressional Research Service: “On February 4, 2020, the Commerce Department issued a final rule that paves the way for imposing tariffs on imports from countries determined by the U.S. government to be undervaluing their currency relative to the U.S. dollar. Various Members of Congress have debated such a policy for years, including in 2013 and 2015, but Congress has refrained from legislating it due to a variety of concerns.”
● Would you defend worker rights globally and work to raise labor standards in global supply chains?
Yes, every human being is entitled to civil rights at home, at work and in public. We must develop firm moral and ethical guidelines everywhere to protect people and planetary interests. No monetary interests should override our obligation to care for people. Products everywhere should conform to respect human rights, democratized workplaces and a commitment to environmental protection.
● Would you vote to make corporations pay the same taxes on offshore profits as they pay on domestic profits so that they no longer have a tax incentive to send jobs overseas?
Yes. I also stand firmly in support of taxing extreme wealth (for example, at 2-cents per dollar over $50M) to fund medical care, education, housing, clean food and water, safe transportation and community-building projects to restore American lives one-by-one instead of funding corporate projects that only pay the few.
● Would you support budget and tax policies that promote the creation and retention of good jobs in the United States, including investment in domestic manufacturing, production and employment?
Congress should reform Wall Street. Wall Street has diverted resources from productive investment toward unproductive speculation and allowed financial and corporate executives to claim a bigger slice of the economic pie without making the pie any bigger.
● Would you support a comprehensive plan to reform financial markets regulation, such as banking, securities and derivatives, to stop Wall Street gambling so that finance once again supports real economy businesses that create good jobs?
Yes. I remain in grief for the many losses experienced in my lifetime as a consequence of Wall Street games played with peoples’ retirement funds, homes, health, cars, credit scores, security, sanity, safety and survival. Following the 2008 crash, many clients and colleagues lost their homes and jobs or lives while corporations were bailed out. Like 1981, 2008 was another promise of trickle-down expectations for everyday folks that never came. After fifteen years of litigation experience on behalf of underdogs, victims and regular Americans, I have an intimate understanding of how fraud, lack of due diligence, fiduciary failures, theft, corruption, insider trading, data breaches, price fixing, planned obsolescence, accounting games and other corporate behaviors hurt people, kill people, destroy families, scare communities, prevent innovation, create massive waste and stall democratic process. As a former prosecutor, I am ready to make my case for the 99.9% against more of the same.
● Would you support passage of a Wall Street speculation tax to discourage harmful speculation that shortchanges investment in the real economy, and to generate revenue for investment in jobs, infrastructure and education?
● Would you support legislation to rein in abusive private equity practices that allow Wall Street executives to funnel money from productive companies and leave workers, pension funds and communities struggling when the companies fail?
Yes. Predatory corporate behaviors that harm workers and the planet should not be tolerated. Tort reforms that shift burdens from corporate actors to taxpayers is not sustainable nor equitable. Capitalism doesn’t occur in a vacuum where resources are endless, and humans are immortal; we must protect our limited earthly resources and humanely treat all people while sharing the benefits of earth’s bounty and human innovations with democratic processes.
● Would you support a 21st-century Glass-Steagall Act and breaking up the "too big to fail” banks?
Yes. Banking consolidation and their influence on the market should be reined in to protect the economy.
● Would you vote to close the carried interest loophole so that the income of private equity and hedge fund managers is taxed as much as the income of working people?
Yes. Carried interest should be treated as "performance-based compensation for management services." Taxing carried interest at the ordinary income rate would make it consistent with similar performance-based compensation like bonuses.
● Would you support legislation requiring the Postal Service to provide basic financial services such as paycheck cashing and electronic funds transfer as a step toward establishing nonprofit, public postal banking?
Retirement income security is beyond the reach of most Americans. According to the nonpartisan Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the retirement income deficit-the gap between what Americans have accumulated for retirement and what they will need for a decent retirement-is a staggering $7.7 trillion. This huge deficit is explained in large part by the fraying of our private pension system, with fewer private-sector workers now covered by traditional pension plans.
Because of the advantages of collective bargaining, unionized workers disproportionately enjoy the benefits of a traditional pension plan, whether it be a single- or multiemployer plan. These benefits, however, are at risk because of circumstances beyond workers' control. Corporate bankruptcies all too often leave pensions decimated. Further, while the majority of multiemployer plans are stable and can be counted on to provide retirement income security to union members, retirees and dependents, a number of them are facing insolvency. For these troubled plans, in addition to corporate bankruptcies, the 2007- 2009 Great Recession, trucking deregulation, changes in our nation's energy needs and demands, changes in the financial sector and regulatory requirements all contributed to insurmountable financial challenges. Now, workers, their unions, their plans and participating employers all agree that significant federal funds are needed to prevent millions of retirees from losing their pension benefits.
As currently constructed, retirement savings plans such as 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts cannot make up for the loss of traditional pensions. They require workers to bear all of the risk, are often insufficiently diversified, suffer from poor returns, and typically carry heavy fees and expenses. Nearly half of working-age families have no retirement savings whatsoever. Even for families close to retirement who have some retirement money, the typical balance translates to income of only $400 per month.
Social Security remains the foundation of retirement income for working families and the principal insurance against family impoverishment due to death or disability. The Social Security system is extremely well crafted, with a progressive benefits structure that delivers higher returns to lower-wage workers and ensures workers and beneficiaries will not outlive their benefits, which are protected from inflation erosion. But as important as they are, Social Security benefits are too low - only $16,428 per year for the average retired worker, which is just $4,000 above the individual federal poverty level.
With a nearly $2.9 trillion trust fund and the ability to pay all promised benefits in full until 2034, the Social Security system is not in crisis. Congress can address Social Security's modest funding shortfall over the next 75 years, amounting to 1% of gross domestic product, without any benefit cuts to current or future retirees.
● Would you support corporate bankruptcy reform to protect workers' pensions?
● Would you support a federal solution to the looming multi-employer pension crisis that stabilizes the system and does not harm plans that are currently healthy?
Yes. I have been honored to sit on municipal pension-review boards to learn about the varying interests at stake in regard to unfunded pensions and will always vote on the side of taking care of everyday people who served with an expectation of retirement security.
● Would you support legislation requiring all financial professionals and firms who provide investment advice on retirement accounts to put their clients' best interests ahead of their own financial interests and to take affirmative measures to mitigate any professional financial conflicts they may have?
Yes. It is disgusting that consumers believe financial professionals to also be fiduciaries when such is not the case. Many of my client’s lives have been detrimentally impacted by this issue and I am angry about the lack of congressional attention given to this matter. I hope to win this election to fight for the consumers struggling with financial security after entrusting Wall Street to do the right things for decades.
● Would you support legislation to strengthen retirement income security by increasing Social Security benefits for all beneficiaries?
● Would you oppose efforts to reduce Social Security's guaranteed benefits under current law, including proposals to increase the retirement age (which is already increasing to 67 under current law), change the calculation for the annual cost-of-living adjustment, change the benefit formula or institute means testing?
Yes. I will oppose any attempts to reduce Social Security benefits and support expansion thereof. Senior citizens cannot survive on $14K/yr. Lives are at stake and families are being burdened - it is a Senator’s duty to protect people, and Kentucky is lacking in such accountable leadership qualities with Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul in office.
● Would you oppose legislation to replace any part of Social Security's guaranteed benefits with individual investment accounts?
OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH
Workers have the right to return home after a day at work in the same condition they began the day. In 1970, Congress enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act in response to the unacceptable number of workers being killed or seriously injured in the workplace. Since then, significant progress has been made, but the toll of workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities remains high. Each year, thousands of workers are killed and millions more injured or diseased because of their jobs. Some groups, including Latino workers and immigrant workers, are at greater risk due to dangerous conditions and lack of protections. Millions of workers still are not covered by the law, and protections remain inadequate for millions of workers who are covered.
The Trump administration has rolled back safety and health protections by issuing policies that limit worker rights during safety inspections and limit worker protections from retaliation for reporting workplace injuries.
Specifically, it has issued proposals to weaken current standards on beryllium exposure, injury reporting and mine examinations. Work on standards that would protect workers from workplace violence and combustible dust have been delayed or abandoned, and the Trump administration refuses to address exposure to toxic chemicals under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act.
Job safety agency budgets have been reduced, leaving agencies with fewer resources to enforce current standards, continue work on lifesaving protections, and provide safety and health training. Business groups and many congressional Republicans are also pushing "regulatory reform" legislation that would make it impossible for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Mine Safety and Health Administration and other agencies to issue needed safeguards to protect workers and the public.
To counter the Trump administration's failure to make progress in protecting workers against life-threatening workplace hazards, congressional Democrats have introduced legislation to mandate the issuance of new health and safety standards - notably on workplace violence prevention, heat illness prevention and exposure to asbestos. House Democrats also have proposed funding increases for job safety programs that protect workers.
● Would you support legislation to strengthen the OSH Act and extend OSHA coverage to all workers, strengthen whistle-blower protections and enhance OSHA's enforcement programs?
Yes. OSHA is critical to ensuring the safety and health of workers.
● Would you support increases in the job safety budget to strengthen standard setting, enforcement, and worker safety and health training programs?
● Would you support legislation to ensure agencies fulfill their missions and require OSHA and MSHA to issue comprehensive and timely standards?
● Would you oppose efforts to weaken or defund the regulatory and enforcement programs of OSHA and MSHA?
Yes. I will oppose any efforts to weaken or eliminate these critical regulatory and enforcement bodies.
● Would you oppose efforts that ignore worker exposure to toxic chemicals during the implementation of the amended TSCA law?
● Would you oppose legislation making it more difficult or impossible for government agencies to develop and issue necessary safeguards to protect workers, the public and consumers?
Yes. We must have the ability to adapt to changing threats to workers.
● Would you support legislation to address the problem of workplace violence?
Yes. Workers must have a safe environment free of violence.
The AFL-CIO supports comprehensive immigration reform and has strongly advocated for keeping families together and creating a roadmap to citizenship. Immigration reform must be done in a comprehensive manner to protect U.S. workers and reduce the exploitation of immigrant workers. The most effective way to eliminate the competitive advantage unscrupulous employers gain by hiring undocumented immigrants and captive guest workers is to ensure that all workers- regardless of where they were born-are paid prevailing wages and have the full protection of labor, health and safety, and other laws.
Immigration reform must include five major interconnected pieces: a broad, inclusive roadmap to citizenship; an independent, professional bureau to measure labor shortages and ensure employers are not bringing foreign workers into the country to displace U.S. worker s or to lower industry wages and working conditions; improvement, not expansion, of existing temporary worker programs; a secure , effective work authorization mechanism that treats workers fairly; and rational, humane border control measures.
The AFL-CIO supports working people with temporary protections granted by the executive branch through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and temporary protected status programs. By extending relief and work authorization to more than 1 million people, DACA and TPS have helped prevent unscrupulous employers from using unprotected workers to drive down wages and conditions for all workers in our country. Rather than terminating these successful programs, we need to extend protections that allow people to live and work without fear and afford them the status to assert their rights on the job. Congress should enact immigration reforms that will help ensure safer workplaces, build a stronger economic future for our nation, and support the basic rights and dignity of all working people.
● Would you support a timely, certain road map to citizenship?
Yes. No human is illegal. Every human is entitled to legitimacy, democracy and safety.
● Would you oppose enforcement-only immigration policies that increase fear in our workplaces and communities?
Yes. America must remain a multicultural and diverse society that welcomes those seeking a better life via asylum or refugee assistance treaties, migration or immigration.
● Would you support efforts to reform temporary worker programs by strengthening workplace protections and employer oversight?
● Would you support measures to extend permanent protections to working people protected by DACA and TPS?
● Would you support legislation to draw clear lines of separation between immigration enforcement and local and state law enforcement?
WORK AND FAMILY POLICIES
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, requiring employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid (but job protected) family or medical leave, was a major step in helping workers balance the demands of work and family. But its limited coverage and the inability of millions of workers to afford leave without pay constrains the FMLA's effectiveness. Only 59% of workers are covered and eligible to take leave under the FMLA, and according to a 2012 U.S. Labor Department study, nearly half (46%) of eligible workers who needed leave but did not take it said they could not afford it. To address these shortcomings, Congress should expand FMLA eligibility and resist calls by employers to curtail FMLA rights by limiting the circumstances under which employees can take leave. Congress also must enact paid family and medical leave insurance that guarantees up to 12 weeks of paid leave for workers to care for newborns or sick family members, or to recover from their own illness.
● Would you support legislation to provide paid family and medical leave insurance?
Congress must guarantee at least seven paid sick days per year for every worker. Employees should not have to choose between coming to work sick or staying home without pay-and risking their jobs. Yet about 3 in 10 private-sector workers do not have access to paid, job-protected sick days. Low-wage workers are especially vulnerable: 78% of the lowest -wage workers-the majority of whom are women-do not have a single paid sick day. When workers cannot access paid sick time, their economic and job security suffers. Just 3.5 unpaid days away from work jeopardizes a typical family's ability to afford groceries when breadwinners do not have paid sick days.
● Would you support legislation requiring companies to guarantee at least seven paid sick days per year?
Further, employees increasingly face just-in-time scheduling practice, receiving very little notice of their work schedules and facing shorter, unpredictable work hours when work is slow- without payment for their scheduled shifts. Managers often assign workers to call-in shifts or on-call shifts that require them to wait for their employers' calls (often within two hours of their potential shift) to find out whether to report to work. The AFL-CIO supports the Schedules That Work Act to provide greater rights and protections to workers who face abusive scheduling practices.
● Would you support the Schedules That Work Act, sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), that would empower hourly employees with greater scheduling flexibility and certainty?
Yes. Work hours and on call hours must be clearly defined. Workers should be clear about where they are working. Work assignments and schedules should be provided with adequate time. And schedules should not wildly fluctuate.
The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay a time-and-a-half cash premium for work performed in excess of 40 hours per week. Under the guise of helping families balance work and family, some in Congress have proposed giving employers the option of offering compensatory time off (instead of a cash premium) for overtime work. Supporters claim this legislation would give workers more flexibility and control over their schedules. In reality, compensatory time proposals would undermine the 40-hour workweek-resulting in more workers working longer hours for less pay- and would give flexibility and control to employers rather than workers.
● Would you oppose legislation excusing employers from their obligation under the FLSA to pay a cash premium for overtime work if they offer their employees compensatory time off?
Health care is a basic human right. This is why the American labor movement has fought for more than a century for a health care system that guarantees everyone high-quality health care without financial barriers. Our longstanding goal for achieving this is to move expeditiously toward a single-payer system, such as Medicare for All, that provides universal coverage using a social insurance model, while retaining a role for workers' health plans. We can advance toward a single-payer system by lowering Medicare's eligibility age from 65 to 50 and by creating a public health insurance option that builds upon Medicare or Medicaid as an alternative to coverage provided by for-profit insurance companies.
● Would you support single-payer proposals that recognize the important role that unions play in securing comprehensive coverage for working people?
Yes. Health care is a human right and I support Medicare for All plans to conform our healthcare system to work for the people.
● Would you support lowering the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 50?
● Would you support creating a public option?
Only in the circumstance where a universal program cannot be passed.
Congress should eliminate the 40% health benefits tax-the misnamed "Cadillac tax." The Affordable Care Act included a controversial tax designed to increase the out-of-pocket costs for workers with employment based coverage, commonly known as the "Cadillac tax" on high-cost coverage. We oppose policies that undermine the health benefits earned through work, such as the 40% tax, proposals to limit the tax exclusion for workplace health benefits, and proposals to raise revenue by imposing fees on worker plans.
● Would you support legislation to repeal the 40% "Cadillac tax” on high-cost plans?
● Would you oppose any proposal to tax or impose fees on employment-based health coverage?
Congress should oppose reductions in funding or coverage in public health care programs. In recent years, politicians ideologically opposed to government helping people get needed health care have attacked popular programs that provide coverage to millions of Americans. We strongly oppose attempts to reduce the benefits provided by Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, the ACA and the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system.
● Would you oppose Medicare changes that shift costs to seniors, including premium increases, co-payment increases, benefit reductions or conversion to a voucher system?
● Would you oppose significant cuts to the Medicaid program, through block granting, “per capita caps," changes to the funding formula or other approaches?
● Would you support legislation to preserve coverage provided by CHIP and the ACA?
● Would you oppose privatization of veterans' health care and support full funding of the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure it remains the primary source of care to our nation's veterans?
Yes. We must strengthen the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to fully support service-members and eliminate administrative barriers.
Congress should promote policies that enhance fairness, quality and cost-effectiveness in the health care system. Immediate gains can be made for working people by strengthening existing coverage and securing health care equity for all. Out-of-pocket costs for working families can be reduced by enhancing government's role in negotiating lower prices for medications and medical services.
● Would you support legislation to advance government negotiation of pharmaceutical drug prices, address unfair and abusive practices regarding prescription drug monopoly rights, and require drug price transparency?
● Would you oppose changes that weaken the employer shared responsibility requirements of the ACA?
● Would you oppose efforts to restrict access to FDA-approved birth control methods for women?
● Would you support slowing the opioid epidemic by dramatically expanding access to effective treatment?
Congress should reject privatization of veterans' health care. For decades, the VA has used contract care to supplement the specialized, cost-effective, in-house car e it provides to veterans. However, legislation has been introduced to substitute contract care for the core, integrated services provided by the VA.
● Would you support full funding of the VA to enable the VA health care system to remain the primary source of care for our nation's veterans, and oppose efforts to substitute privatized care for these core services?
Congress should fully fund the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Currently, more than 50 million students attend our country's public schools. The teachers, paraprofessionals and other school employees who work with these students each day care deeply about the equality of our public schools and the education their students receive. Since 1965, the ESEA has represented the federal government's largest investment in K-12 education, and it is a crucial mechanism both in funding and in guiding policy for all public schools.
● Do you believe the federal government has a role in elementary and secondary education?
Yes, absolutely. I support universal free childcare, pre-school, K-12 education, college and trade schools. Communities improve when children are educated in safe learning environments; it is in our best interests to always do what is right for them. It is also imperative that educators are compensated fairly and protected from physical and financial harm.
Congress must oppose the use of school vouchers. Many states still spend less on K- 12 education than they did before the 2007- 2009 recession. Despite this, some in Congress want to use taxpayer money to support private and religious schools by expanding the use of vouchers, opportunity scholarships and tuition tax credits. Decades of experiments with voucher programs have the same conclusion: Vouchers fail most of the children they intend to benefit.
● Do you oppose vouchers and other proposals that allow taxpayer dollars to be used for private and religious schools at the K-12 level, either as a limited experiment or a full-scale program?
Yes, I oppose any funding taken from the public school system to support private, religious or charter schools.
Congress must end the student debt crisis. When states cut funding for higher education, most of the cost of college is shifted to the individual, and few people can afford the rising price tag. That means folks who would benefit from attending college - and in turn benefit all of society- choose not to go. Others take on student loans, graduating into higher earnings that then go toward paying off debt rather than generating more demand in the economy, let alone saving for a home or building a retirement nest egg.
● What will you do to help achieve the goal of high-quality, debt-free higher education?
I support legislation similar to H.R.3472, the College for All Act of 2019, student loan debt forgiveness, public pre-K to 12th grade schools, free college and trade schools, fair admissions processes, occupational choice, expansion of medical education, federal job guarantees and free internet access for all people. If America can correct decades of corporate tax avoidance, fairly tax the extremely wealthy people to redistribute resources to the 99.9% while also introducing new revenue streams like marijuana legalization, the funding of such programs will be achievable.
● What will you do to help the millions of Americans struggling with student loan payments?
I support comprehensive student loan forgiveness and a Senate version of H.R.3448, the Student Debt Cancellation Act of 2019. I attended a for-profit law school (2005-7) and accumulated hundreds of thousands in debt prior to the economic crisis of 2008 which I may not ever be able to repay. At the time, many students were promised salaries and jobs that would support immense student debt, but such is not the case. Many burdened debtors are stalled in life, home ownership, child-rearing and other American Dreams awaiting congressional and administrative actions. If I were in the Senate, I would act on legislation to relieve the economic and emotional strain of America’s growing student debt crisis (currently estimated at $1.56 Trillion).
CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Congress should restore full voting rights for all Americans. In the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, "Voting discrimination still exists; no one doubts that." Yet in that same decision, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court invalidated key provisions of the Voting Rights Act that required jurisdictions with a long history of voting discrimination to seek federal pre-approval of proposed changes to their voting laws. Almost immediately after that decision, states and localities no longer under federal oversight began imposing new obstacles to voting, shortening early voting periods and closing polling places.
Meanwhile, more than 500,000 U.S. citizens live in our nation's capital and have no voting representation in Congress. This situation is an affront to our principles of democracy.
● Would you sponsor and work to enact legislation to restore the strength of the Voting Rights Act?
Yes. Democracy requires 1:1 (one person: one vote) structures, secure elections, voting national holidays, automatic voter registration, fair districts (by zip code), online voting via protected and verified means and universal suffrage 16+.
● Would you oppose efforts to erect obstacles to voting, including those based on economic condition or race?
● Would you support efforts to promote greater voter participation and access, including early voting
● Would you support universal registration and oppose all barriers to universal registration?
Yes, all people should be automatically registered to vote.
● Would you support legislation to allow the delegate elected by the residents of the District of Columbia to vote in the House of Representatives?
Yes. Currently, people who live in our nation’s capital are taxed, yet have no representation in Congress. Further, we must secure representation for all U.S. territories.
Congress should reform the criminal justice system. Nearly 1 in 100 American adults is incarcerated. America's prison population, which has increased 500% over the past 30 years, is the largest in the world. Mass · incarceration has affected individuals and families across the nation but has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color and people in poverty.
● Would you support legislation to reduce the "three-strike” penalty-mandatory life sentences for certain individuals to a term of 25 years, and shorten a previously mandated 20-year sentence for certain individuals to 15 years?
Yes, among other retroactive and expedited procedures for convicted and incarcerated people affected by erroneous and expensive “tough-on-crime” policies. I have been working in the criminal justice system for 15 years trying to make sense of systemic racism, for-profit interests detrimentally impacting individual liberties and corrupt official behaviors that hurt real people and their families. The data is available, as well as scientific evidence, of the systems’ many failures and it is overtime for federal congressional action.
Kentucky has the 9th highest incarceration rate in the nation, its 2nd for incarcerating women and has the 2nd highest rates of “children separated from a parent due to incarceration”. People of color represent 8.3% of Kentucky’s population and, disproportionately, 21% of the incarcerated population. Kentucky is also home to the nation’s highest number of homeless children. Leaders can no longer ignore data. I am committed to ending mass incarceration and abolishing the 13th Amendment’s provisions permitting inmate labor with very little or no pay at all. I am also in support of felon and inmate voting rights as they are people too - and often more well versed in legal implications than free citizens. I support abolishing the death penalty, solitary confinement and private prisons. We must commit ourselves to human rights everywhere.
● Would you support giving judges more discretion to sentence below prescribed mandatory minimums by expanding the existing “safety valve” and creating a new authority for judges to depart from certain mandatory minimums?
Yes, and I support criminal justice reforms of mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, release and rehabilitation of non-violent drug offenders and enhanced post-conviction relief and appellate procedures to expedite justice and commit judicial resources to fixing families and communities.
Congress should strengthen the Equal Pay Act to ensure women are not shortchanged at work. When the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was enacted into law, it became illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to male and female employees who perform the same work. Yet wage disparities between women and men are evident today in both the private and public sectors and at every educational level. The Paycheck Fairness Act would require employers to demonstrate that wage gaps between men and women doing the same work are truly a result of factors other than gender. It also would prohibit retaliation against workers who share salary information or inquire about their employers' wage practices. It would bring Equal Pay Act remedies and class action procedures into conformance with those available for other civil rights and strengthen the government's ability to identify and remedy systematic wage discrimination.
● Would you support the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that would provide targeted remedies needed to update the historic Equal Pay Act?
Congress should fully protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans. LGBTQ Americans need basic protections from discrimination- in credit, education, employment, housing and public accommodations. Significant progress has been made in recent years (coverage under hate crimes legislation, open participation in military service and marriage equality), but until comprehensive federal LGBTQ civil rights protections are enacted, LGBTQ Americans remain vulnerable to discrimination in almost every sphere of life.
● Would you support the Equality Act, legislation to ensure that nationwide civil rights protections cover LGBTQ Americans?
Yes, non-discrimination protections are essential to the life, liberty and happiness of the LGBTQ community. Leaders cannot excuse nor ignore hateful and oppressive acts against our neighbors and friends.