DIGNITY OF WORK POLICY
Over the last 40 years, GDP has gone up, corporate profits have gone up, executive salaries have gone up – all because of the productivity of American workers. But workers haven’t shared in the economic growth they’ve created. Simply put, hard work isn’t paying off like it should – particularly for women and people of color, who represent an increasing share of the workforce.
For all work to have dignity, we must:
- Raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour;
- Ensure workers are paid the overtime they earn;
- Pass equal pay for equal work laws; and
- Make it easier for workers to join a union so they can collectively bargain for better pay and benefits.
Wages for U.S. workers are not keeping pace with productivity, and they buy less today than they did decades ago. After World War II and until the mid-1970s, wages and productivity tracked pretty closely together. That makes sense. As workers produce more for their employers, they should earn more for their work. They should share in the wealth they help to create. Since then, however, productivity has increased significantly, but wages have not risen nearly as much. As wages have declined, so has the number of Americans in the middle class.
Forty percent of American adults cannot cover an emergency expense of $400 without selling something or borrowing to pay for it. They live on the edge of paying the bills or falling behind. This economic insecurity is felt most acutely by women and people of color, who earn less than their white male counterparts and are disproportionately represented in low-wage work. We know that women make on average 80 cents for every dollar earned by men in the same job. The wage gap is even worse for people of color.
By increasing the federal minimum wage to $15, more than 40 million Americans would get a much-deserved raise.
By raising the salary threshold for when companies are required to pay workers overtime for the extra hours they work, we can give a millions of workers a raise.
By making sure workers are protected from retaliation if they discuss their salaries in the workplace, we can help close the pay gap for women and for people of color.
And by updating our labor laws, we can make it easier for all workers to join unions and band together to fight for the wages they deserve, no matter what kind of work they do.