Biden is labor’s best bet

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A recent Federal Reserve survey found that one in five people who were working in February lost their job or were furloughed in March or early April.

The grim financial difficulties brought on by COVID-19 have hit lower earning workers the hardest. Nearly 40 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work compared to just 13 percent of those in a household making over $100,000.

In addition to the loss of their income, some 12 million Americans have also lost their employer-sponsored health coverage since the onset of COVID-19, making the public health crisis even worse.

The coronavirus pandemic has been both an economic crisis and a public health crisis, and the costs of both have fallen heavily on American workers.

At the same time, the pandemic has shone a spotlight on the critical importance of the American worker in keeping the country running. The world has suddenly taken notice of the persons who stock grocery store shelves, work the check-out counters, maintain elevators and facilities, deliver goods, clean hospitals, and a hundred other tasks that are usually taken for granted. These people do the hard work required to keep America’s lights on.

American workers are being tested by adversity, and they have stepped up to meet the moment heroically. They deserve a president who can meet the moment.

Donald Trump has failed to meet the moment. He failed to even prepare for the moment.

Despite his attempts to portray himself as a leader who protects the interests of so-called forgotten Americans, President Trump is no working-class hero.

He badly bungled the roll-out of coronavirus testing nationwide, leaving the country unprepared for a pandemic. His administration failed to provide the essential workforce with PPE during the coronavirus pandemic — and yet insisted that they continue to go to work.

His Cabinet picks have been more pro-billionaire than pro-worker.

His administration has done nothing to help millions of workers who lost their employer-sponsored health insurance, and instead has actually worked to reduce the availability of alternative health insurance.

He has refused to extend the unemployment benefits that have been so important to millions of Americans thrown out of work by the pandemic. Those benefits are running out — and now millions of Americans face eviction, foreclosure and spiraling debt.

He has gutted occupational and safety regulations, limited OSHA inspections, and reduced the number of OSHA investigators.

He has found time to engage in divisive rhetoric on a wide range of issues, but the pandemic has shown that he has no real concern or understanding of the issues that matter most in the daily lives of working Americans.

Unlike President Trump, Joe Biden has been a dependable union ally and a champion of the working class for his entire career. In the Senate, Biden earned a lifetime AFL-CIO voting record of 86 percent.

He has shown himself committed to the issues that matter most to working Americans.

He has steadfastly supported the role of unions in empowering workers by raising pay, improving health and retirement benefits, and making the workplace safe for all.

He would work to improve worker safety and health.

He would reinstate critical safety protections that the Trump administration has eliminated, expand OSHA’s enforcement efforts, and protect workers’ wages and benefits.

As a staunch supporter of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, Biden would effectively protect organizing and collective bargaining, and hold accountable any corporation that knowingly violates labor laws.

He would work to repeal the Taft-Hartley provisions that currently allow states to impose “right to work” (for less) laws that undermine unions by allowing workers to receive the benefits of unionization without having to contribute union dues.

A Biden White House would support policies that empower federal agencies that execute project labor agreements (PLAs) and policies that expand prevailing wage laws to public projects.

He would work to stabilize troubled multiemployer pensions.

He would work to end wage theft and worker misclassification, and more workers would again be eligible for overtime pay.

A Biden administration would enforce robust prevailing wage protections to ensure taxpayer dollars are used to strengthen the middle class — rather than line the pockets of unscrupulous contractors.

The bottom line is this: Joe Biden understands the relationship between strong unions and a thriving middle class. He wants to bring back a federal government designed to work for everyday people — not just the corporate elite.

We need a president who recognizes that the fundamental rights and protections of working men and women are non-negotiable.

We need a president who is willing to do the hard work necessary to ensure that American workers always have what they need to be the most productive in the world.

Joe Biden is the right choice for the country and for American workers in 2020.

Frank J. Christensen is the General President of the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC). The IUEC represents more than 29,000 working men and women who are proud to ply their trade as elevator constructors.

Tags 2020 presidential election Donald Trump Joe Biden Labor
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