Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke on Thursday rolled out his sweeping plan to ensure higher wages, protections for labor unions and end workplace discrimination.
“We need to be there for workers across this country who have always been the engine of our economy,” the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate said, a day after speaking at the Iowa AFL-CIO Convention. “We need to keep up the fight for $15 an hour to ensure that one job is enough – and no one needs to work a second or third job to support themselves and their families. Only then can we build an economy that finally works for everyone in this country.”
Under O’Rourke’s “21st Century Labor Contract,” workers will be able to join a union if they so wish, get paid a living wage no matter the industry, will not need to work a second or third job to provide for a family, will not be face discrimination in the job search process, will have access to job training and will have access to a fair labor market.
In a Medium post from O’Rourke’s campaign, this plan is highlighted as “a new contract between workers, employers, and the federal government,” ensuring that any worker who wants can form a union and those who are not members will experience many of the same protections a union provides such as overtime and paid sick days.
O’Rourke has made raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour a staple of his stump speech on the trail throughout the duration of his campaign and he includes this policy proposal in this plan, as well as signing the Paycheck Fairness Act, which passed the House of Representatives this year.
He also issuing his plan to call for free community college so students, including undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children, can receive occupation training to enter the workforce.
Additionally, the plan laid out by O’Rourke calls for protecting LGBTQ workers from discrimination, protecting workers lacking immigration status from retaliation and threats by employers, ensuring seven days of sick leave per year, banning non-compete agreements and using federal health care spending as a lever to raise wages for health and long-term care workers.
O’Rourke’s trip to Iowa this week was his first since rebooting his campaign after the mass shooting on August 3 in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, where a gunman who police say posted a screed online that warned of a “Hispanic invasion” killed 22 people at a Walmart.
Since the shooting, O’Rourke has rolled out a new plan to combat gun violence and white nationalism in America, and has visited towns in southern states affected by the Trump administration’s policies, including two stops in Mississippi to offer support to immigrant families affected by ICE raids at several processing plants in the state.