Time To Look Ahead To 2020 by Paul Canning

 In News, Newsletter: Summer '19

Even at such an early start to the 2020 presidential election, it’s clear that workers’ rights are front and center.

Democratic presidential hopefuls are flocking to picket lines to support organized workers. Many are speaking in front of union-packed halls around the country. A federal $15 minimum wage is a platform for more than a dozen candidates — and so are federal requirements for paid sick and family leave. Equal pay is prominent, and so is the right to organize, apprenticeship and training, The New Green Deal, and Immigration.

Close to the hearts of all the labor leaders is legislation that makes it easier for workers to organize into unions. Many had high hopes at the beginning of President Barack Obama’s first term that the Democratic controlled Congress would pass and he would sign the Employee Free Choice Act. The law would have required companies to recognize unions as soon as a majority of workers signed cards expressing their desire to unionize.

But even with a 60-vote Democratic super-majority in the Senate and control of the House, the legislation did not pass at that time because of resistant Democrats influenced by big business. Labor leaders have not given up on this, however, and will push the Democrats hard on the issue this time around.

The election itself comes at a pivotal movement for American workers. Despite low unemployment and a tight labor market, wages are barely growing.

Retail workers are losing their jobs or getting fewer hours. Teachers are protesting around the country for better wages and smaller class sizes. Manufacturing plants are moving out of the country and big businesses are growing even larger. And the threat of automation stands to alter the American workforce and economy. Although the IUPAT numbers have increased, we ALL need to be aware of what’s happening around us.

What we are planning now is to organize, mobilize, and educate not just all our members (IUPAT) but more broadly all the working people on the importance of taking concern for our issues and bringing them into the elections in 2020.

IUPAT General President Ken Rigmaiden said it best, “We are happy to open our doors to all the candidates who are running for President. It is critical that these candidates understand the membership of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) and there is no better way than to visit one of our 106 training facilities across the country and witness the skilled workforce training that IUPAT provides through our Finishing Trades Institute.

Working men and women, including IUPAT members, will be one of the most critical demographics in the 2020 election cycle. I encourage any and all presidential candidates to listen to IUPAT members and the challenges they face, especially in the areas of workplace development and ending the skilled labor shortage. And all candidates should be bold in the expression of their values and policy proposals for strengthening the middle class and for all working people of America.”