Right now, American working families are under attack. Wages are too low, unions and the ability to collectively bargain as a workforce are being threatened and women in the workforce still do not possess equal rights.
Traditionally speaking, the Democratic Party has been the party of government welfare to lift up and support those citizens who need it. From the New Deal policies of the 1930s to recent pushes to raise the minimum wage, the Democratic Party recognizes the importance of the government reinvesting its money in its own people. When it comes to supporting working families, the same is true of Democratic platforms.
In order to support working families, the Democratic Party knows we must raise wages, increase workplace protections and create better policies for balancing work and family life. Strong workers make strong families.
The current minimum wage is not sustainable by any means, and Democrats recognize this fundamental problem among the American workforce. The federal minimum wage of $7.25 fails to appreciate the cost of living. The annual salary a full-time minimum wage-earning employee makes puts them well below the poverty line — even for a family of two.
Many Democrats, including presidential candidates Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar have called for changing the minimum wage to a livable one of $15 an hour. The Trump Administration — despite endorsing a $10 minimum wage in 2016 – has failed to enact any changes to the federal minimum wage.
Democrats understand and appreciate the importance of unions and workplace protections in supporting working families. In Wisconsin alone, weakened collective bargaining abilities have had real negative effects on workers. Act 10, a 2011 Republican budget bill, had serious negative tolls on teachers’ ability to secure healthcare and high wages. The legislation is seen as a major cause of Wisconsin’s ongoing teacher shortage, just one example of the importance of worker protections.
Last year, Democrats introduced the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, aimed at pushing back on Republican anti-union “right-to-work” laws that allow for union members to opt out of paying fees. These laws undermine the political influence of unions because many workers choose not to pay, and therefore unions have lost millions of dollars. Without unions, many professions that rely on their strength — such as teaching — are weakened as a result.
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The inequality of women in the workplace is detrimental to families and a top issue for the Democratic Party’s platform. Democrats support passing a family and medical leave act that would provide all workers with at least 12 weeks of paid leave after having a baby. Unlike many Republicans, Democrats support investing in early education programs and childcare to support working families.
Current policies and priorities of the Trump Administration encourage a growing inequality gap between the rich and the poor at the expense of working families. The Democratic Party’s policies intend to lift up and strengthen the middle class. A strong America requires strong workers, which requires a supportive role of the government.
Abby Schinderle ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in political science and journalism. She is the press secretary for the College Democrats of UW-Madison.