Democrats expand on the ‘Better Deal’ with proposed labor law reforms

Democrats are campaigning for 2018 on a “Better Deal” platform, focusing on progressive economic reforms, and this week have rolled out a set of proposals for strengthening unions and workers’ right to organize. Among them:

  • A “federal law that provides public workers with the same rights and freedom to engage in collective bargaining as their private sector counterparts,” designed to prevent the piecemeal right-to-work efforts that have taken off in Republican-run states since 2011.
  • A ban on state “right-to-work” laws altogether, as “they have been found to reduce union membership by up to 10 percent and have resulted in lower wages and decreased access to employer-provided health care and pensions.”
  • Making it easier to strike with a “ban [on] the permanent replacement of striking workers.”
  • Limiting employers’ ability to campaign against union drives. “When companies taint the election process by using captive audience meetings, the NLRB will set

    corrupted election results aside and require the employer to bargain with the worker representative,” Democrats write in the Better Deal white paper.

These proposals join a long list of things Democrats have pledged to do for working people but can’t even get a vote on as long as Republicans control Congress. Dave Weigel points out that it’s also an opportunity to strengthen relationships with a labor movement that’s grown disillusioned with Democratic inaction. According to a resolution at last week’s AFL-CIO convention:

“In the results of national elections, whether the candidates elected are from the Republican or Democratic Party, the interests of Wall Street have been protected and advanced, while the interests of labor and working people have generally been set back,” read the resolution. While continuing to endorse “friends and allies of workers,” the AFL-CIO “pursues a strategy of advancing our core issues through referenda and ballot initiatives and propositions at the statewide and local level; studies the viability of independent and third-party politics; and explores other reasonable means of advancing the interests of labor in electoral politics.”

In 2018, or 2020, or whenever Democrats manage to regain the ability to hold votes on bills or even pass laws, they’ll have to follow through. But now it’s important to offer a positive vision for what could be, even if it won’t get one-tenth the coverage of a single Trump tweet.

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