Better Jobs and Better Pay
I will fight for better jobs and better pay for working and middle class people. Underemployment is the silent crisis of our time, where people are working at jobs where they cannot fully utilize their skills or potential. I saw this growing up with my own father, who lost a good job when I was 10 and struggled to find and keep steady work until his death when I was 17. Too often, these jobs do not pay enough for people to provide for themselves. Underemployment, long term unemployment not counted in headline statistics, and stagnant wages have shrunk our middle class and increased income inequality for too long. Some 3rd District communities are prospering, but too many are working hard and yet falling further behind.
My initial proposals:
A living wage for all – raise the minimum wage: I will vote for the Scott-Sanders “Raise the Wage Act” to raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hr by 2024. This will not only help tens of thousands of minimum wage workers in the 3rd District, but other working and middle class workers too, as it will exert upward pressure on wages further up the wage scale.
Standing with labor unions to defend and advance the interests of the working class and middle class: In the decades after World War II, America built the greatest middle class in the history of the world. Strong unions negotiating living wages were a key ingredient in the formula, along with robust infrastructure and education investments, and progressive taxation. I will fight back against attacks on the hard-earned pay, pension and other benefits won by public and private sector workers in Massachusetts and around the country through collective bargaining by their labor unions. As a former public employee for 13 years as an intelligence analyst, I endured years of pay freezes and understand the damage that is done to society and the economy-- from the Intelligence Community to the classroom to the nurse's station to the construction site-- when public and private employees do not have the benefit of collective bargaining through unions. Accordingly, I will work to support the re-introduction and passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. I will also preserve the rights of teachers and other public employees to effectively engage in collective bargaining by supporting or co-sponsoring legislation to protect "fair share" dues under attack in the Janus case before the Supreme Court as of this writing.
Reduce long-term unemployment and underemployment with a federal job guarantee: I support Senator Booker's legislation to pilot a federal job guarantee-- an idea that has its roots in FDR's call for a right to employment. Thousands of people across our district -- especially older workers -- have been unemployed or underemployed for so long that their struggle is not accounted for in the top-line unemployment numbers as they are no longer actively seeking employment (which is in turn captured by the labor force participation rate dropping for nearly 20 years). These are among the people who would most benefit from this program. When scaled up, local governments and other entities in our district and around the country would submit projects and job descriptions for federal government funding at a modest living wage. The program would also provide these workers with new skills, the social and health benefits and dignity of work at a living wage, as well as providing an insulating effect against recessions.
Better jobs means defending and advancing gains in job safety and workplace conditions: I will support workers in their fights for safe and equitable work conditions against the growing efforts to deregulate hard-won gains, ranging from protecting nursing staff ratios in hospitals and healthcare settings to supporting predictable schedules via the Schedules That Work Act to defending required break and rest periods for public safety and transportation workers.
Support occupational licensure reform: Provide funds for Massachusetts and other states to study the need for state licenses and fees in professions where there are no health, safety, or consumer protection interests in such licenses and fees
Grants to make compliance with federal, state, and local regulations easier and less expensive through updated online and mobile services: Too many federal, state, and local regulatory authorities are decades behind in technology adoption, slowing permitting and other processes and costing businesses time, money and opportunities – we must do better.
Invest in basic science, public health, and space, and create jobs in the 3rd District: I will also advocate for bolder goals and commensurate increases in federal funds to basic science research, NIH and NASA which will pay off both in future technological developments as well as opportunities for 3rd District employers and workers.
Bringing 3rd District manufacturing and services to the markets of the world by fighting for free and fair trade: We have leading firms and innovative startups in biotechnology, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, aerospace, consulting services, and other sectors that can compete in the global economy and create wealth if the playing field is fair. I will use my foreign affairs experience to encourage progress on bilateral and multilateral trade agreements with robust labor and environmental standards.
Restore the first rung of the ladder of opportunity by encouraging no-cost community college for all: Aggressively matching state funds will incentivize states to bring community college systems like Northern Essex and Middlesex to a no-cost model, while other funds will be made available to enhance child-care and transportation assistance to remove barriers of access to education.
Create alternative paths to working and middle class prosperity with federal support to apprenticeships: This old idea that combines education, mentorship, and an income should be refreshed for the Automation Age and supported with tax credits.
Give the working and middle class a fair share by encouraging profit sharing: Allow companies to deduct 15% of the profits paid to ordinary workers under the program, take away deductions for executive performance pay for those who will not.