Sen. Bernie Sanders

Obviously the best case scenario for Big Labor would be for the Democrats to take the presidency and sweep Congress. It may seem a pretty big pendulum swing from where we are right now, but with today’s political scene, you can’t rule out anything! With that in mind, it may be useful to take a look at what such a sweep could mean to labor policy.

Here is a list of legislation supported by most of the Democrat contenders:

  • The Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which would ban “right to work” laws that allow employees to opt out of paying union fees in unionized workplaces, even though they get the benefits of collective bargaining.
  • The Schedules That Work Act, which guarantees predictable schedules for workers, or extra pay if they have to work irregular schedules.
  • The Paycheck Fairness Act, which would bar employers from using an employee’s salary history to determine wages, ensure that workers have the right to discuss wages without retaliation, and require employers to justify any pay discrepancies.
  • The Family Act, which guarantees up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to workers, funded through a payroll tax on businesses and employees.
  • The Healthy Families Act, which would require most businesses to provide full-time workers with at least seven days of paid sick leave.
  • The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act would essentially amend federal labor laws to include domestic workers. But it would also extend new benefits to them, such as guaranteed paid time off, privacy protection, and a written employment contract.
  • The Raise the Wage Act, which gradually raises the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and indexes future increases to wage growth. It also abolishes the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

One strategy that has emerged in the debate over “labor reform” is sectoral bargaining. SEIU President Mary Kay Henry appealed to the 2020 Democratic candidates to think beyond just amending the rules to make it easier to organize, and instead to consider totally revamping U.S. labor law. In promoting sectoral bargaining, Henry explained, “Bargaining by industry, where workers from multiple companies sit across a table from the largest employers in their industry to negotiate for wages and benefits, is standard practice in almost every developed country in the world.” Although this is really a stretch, both Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg have folded sectoral bargaining into their labor platforms.

To see where each candidate stands on these and other issues, review their individual labor platforms here.