Castro unveils 'Workers First' plan

Castro unveils 'Workers First' plan
© Greg Nash

Democratic presidential hopeful Julián Castro on Wednesday unveiled his sweeping “Workers First" plan that includes a slate of proposals seeking to empower workers.

Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, who also served as Housing and Urban Development secretary during the Obama administration, said his plan would work to double union membership, strengthen labor protections for domestic workers and include farmworkers in labor and employment law protections, among other efforts.

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“I grew up in a working class household with two strong women," Castro said in a statement. "My grandmother worked her entire life as a maid, a cook, and a babysitter. My mom was a community organizer in the Chicano movement. Ensuring our economy and our democracy works for working people is not theoretical for me, it’s personal.”

“This Workers First labor platform will spark economic opportunity, empower workers with justice and dignity, and ensure all workers are included in our future prosperity,” he added.

Castro said he would seek to bolster efforts to impose fines on employers who impede unionization, would encourage publicly traded corporations to reserve at least one-third of their board seats for workers who are elected by nonmanagement employees, and end practices like noncompete clauses while also strengthening overtime rules.

The White House hopeful also said he would seek to help domestic workers by strengthening labor protections and guaranteeing paid family and medical leave, and would push to help farmworkers by including them in labor and employment law protection laws, among other provisions.

“Workers need a new champion in the White House — a president who will fight for the rights of working people to organize, join a union, and build a more just economy. And the American people are ready for change,” Castro said.

The plan’s release comes as the crowded Democratic primary field jockeys for support among labor groups in the hopes that the party can win back working-class voters who historically backed Democrats but flipped to President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally MORE in 2016.

Castro has qualified for the next Democratic primary debate later this month but has seen his poll numbers languish in the middle tier. He has yet to disclose his fundraising haul for the third quarter of 2019.