COLUMBUS - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) unveiled a new plan to restore the value of work in America during a speech at The Ohio State University's Glenn College of Public Affairs today.
The plan, titled, WORKING TOO HARD FOR TOO LITTLE: A Plan for Restoring the Value of Work in America, is available online at https://www.brown.senate.gov/download/working-too-hard-for-too-little.
Brown's plan will make hard work pay off once again by doing four things:
1. Raising workers' wages and benefits
2. Giving workers more power in the workplace
3. Making it possible for more workers to save for retirement
4. Encouraging more companies to invest in their workforces
"Hard work doesn't pay off like it used to. Wages and benefits have declined or stagnated for American workers for decades. People earn less, people can't save for retirement, and people feel less stable - all while working harder and producing more than ever before. We need to update our economic policies, our retirement policies, and our labor laws to reflect today's reality," Brown said.
"When I talk about workers, I'm talking about all workers -whether you punch a time sheet or make a salary or earn tips. Whether you're a contract worker or a temp.
Whether you work in a call center or a bank or on a factory floor.
"When we talk about work, we talk to everyone. When we restore value to work, we will make our country a better place for every single American.
That's what this plan aims to do."
Complete text of Brown's speech today is attached.
For more than a year, Brown and his office have studied the challenges facing workers in Ohio and across the country and found compiled a comprehensive agenda of solutions.
"We need to change the way we think about the American economy. It's not businesses who drive the economy - its workers. We grow the economy from the middle class out," Brown said. "If work isn't valued, Americans can't earn their way to a better life for their families - no matter how hard they work. And without a strong, growing middle class to consume goods and services, our economy simply can't grow."
Brown and his office have been working on this plan since the fall of 2015. Some of the policies outlined in Brown's plan are new ideas. Others Democrats have talked about before, but they've never been laid out as part of a broader agenda to restore the value of work for all Americans.
Over the next several months, Brown will be introducing specific pieces of legislation to implement his plan.
WORKING TOO HARD FOR TOO LITTLE:
A Plan for Restoring the Value of Work in America
1. Raise workers' wages and benefits:
* Raise the federal minimum wage to $15.
* Pay overtime to executive, administrative, and professional workers making less than $47,476.
* Make sure workers are able to earn up to seven paid sick days.
* Establish 12-weeks of paid family and medical leave through a national paid leave fund.
2. Give workers more power in the workplace:
* Provide workers in key service sectors with advanced notice of their schedules.
* Expand collective bargaining rights to give workers a stronger voice in the workplace.
* Redefine what it means to be an independent contractor by preventing large employers from using the independent contractor classification to get around labor laws and boost profits. Specifically, require employers with more than 500 independent contractors and $7.5 million in annual receipts to pay employer payroll taxes for independent contractors.
* Crack down on wage theft. Wage theft can take many forms, including: forcing people to work off the clock, refusing to pay workers the minimum wage, denying workers overtime pay even after working more than 40 hours a week, stealing workers' tips, or knowingly misclassifying workers to avoid paying fair wages.
* Fight back against employers who misclassify workers as independent contractors to avoid paying taxes and fair wages by strengthening IRS enforcement authority.
3. Make it possible for more workers to save for retirement:
* Expand access to retirement programs for part-time workers, low-wage workers, and small business owners.
* Create better retirement savings opportunities for independent contractors.
* Give workers a tax credit to match their retirement contributions.
4. Encourage companies to invest in their workforces:
* Require corporate freeloaders to reimburse taxpayers when their employees have to rely on federal assistance programs because their wages are too low.
* Give companies a tax break when they commit to staying in the
U.S., hiring in the U.S., and providing good wages and fair benefits for their workers.