Labor

The labor of societies’ working people creates all wealth. More specifically, in capitalism this labor creates the profits that enrichen the owners of major corporations and drive the economy. Worker’s ability to produce these profits also means they have the ability to stop their production, if they are organized on the job. This gives workers tremendous power in a society organized around the pursuit of profit.

This dynamic is why organized labor has played a crucial role in blunting the natural tendency of exploitation that underlines the very basic concept of capitalism and why it posses the power to ultimately defeat capitalism and build a new society.  We thanked organized labor as children for being in classrooms instead of factory floors, and we continue to do so as adults on any day we have off. We believe the erosion of the very right for organized labor to exist is indelibly tied to the growing levels of inequality, deprivation and desperation experienced by a growing number of Americans every day, and that when the rights of the worker disappear, the rights of the citizen will follow closely behind.

Only a commitment to the existence and ideals embodied by the labor movement can stem the polarization of society into a small group of haves amongst a much larger group of have-nots.  A fighting labor movement is capable of placing power into the hands of the have-nots in order to transform our society into one based on cooperation and the fulfilment of human need. We reject the prioritization of shareholder dividends and corporate manager bonuses at the expense of the employee labor essential to the provision of goods and services that currently exists in every major corporation. The assault on organized labor led largely by shareholders and top corporate managers opens the door to an assault on democratic government in America itself.

While the fight to build a Labor movement capable of this task lies primarily with working at their places of work, their are a number of legislative demands that could aid tremendously in this fight. First, legislation that raises the floor on working conditions for all workers would not only improve the lives of workers, but would also embolden workers to fight for more on the job, knowing that if they were fired they could get a decent job elsewhere. Second, legislation that ensures the labor movement can fight and win against the boss, such as the right to strike and protection from retaliation for union activity, not only leads to improved working conditions where unions exist but also across the entire economy as bosses react to the threat of workplace disorder.

Minimum Labor Standards

Right to Employment

  • Guarantee full employment. The right to gainful employment for all able to work is a basic human right. 

  • Pass universal just cause legislation to protect workers from arbitrary discipline and bullying bosses.

  • End tax breaks for any company that offshores jobs.

  • Force employers to share any increase in profit due to labor replacing technology with employees.

Right to a Living Wage

  • Ensure a real, livable, minimum wage, pegged to inflation and without loopholes, including any loopholes which raise the minimum wage over a period of years.

  • Require prevailing wages, regardless of union affiliation, for contractors employed by the state, and all jobs receiving state funding.

  • Support the one fair wage and eliminate tip credit - where employers can count tips partially toward wages.

  • Enshrine employers inability to redistribute tips between tipped andand traditionally not tipped workers.

Right to a Work Life Balance

  • Require notice and severance for spinoffs, layoffs, and liquidations. Workers should have at least one month of notice before being terminated for layoffs.

  • Reduce the workweek to 30 hours for the same pay. Schedules should be provided at least a month in advance by employers so workers can adequately schedule their lives. 

  • Implement a minimum of three weeks paid vacation time and two weeks paid sick time.

  • Guarantee parental leave to family members regardless of gender or sexual orientation, and regardless of biological connection to one’s dependent.

  • Compensate workers for excessive commute times.

  • Prohibit employers from requiring that workers respond to work calls, texts, or emails after the stated close of business.

Right to Safety

  • Mandatory apprenticeship requirements on all state-funded construction projects

  •  Full pay and benefits on all state-funded construction projects, including the restoration and expansion of the New York City subway system with no hardship agreements.

  •  Safe staffing ratios for hospitals

  •  A drastic increase in fines and penalties for companies where a worker dies on the job. There need to be significant consequences for even one death — our lives are not part of the cost of doing business.

Right to Fair Employment Standards

  • Prohibit non-disclosure and non-compete clauses.

  • The misclassification of workers such as temporary hires, and independent contractors must end. Adhere to all standards for independent contractors, including price determination. Regulators should be directed to remove economic incentives to gig economy corporations, further enabling a race to the bottom for job security, wages, benefits, and working hours.

  • End Workplace Discrimination (see  Gender, Racial, and Disability Justice plank)

  • Ensure Access to Benefits Regardless of Employment (see for example the Health Care Plank) 

Bolster Working Class Power

  • Amend the Taylor Law to allow the public sector right to strike in New York State. The right to strike is a basic right necessary for any worker to fight for improved working conditions. As things stand, an employee of a public sector workplace is at a disadvantage when negotiating with their employer. This is an injustice which does not exist in other states and should be lifted immediately.

  • Demand no givebacks from public sector workers. Paychecks are barely keeping up with rising costs, but millionaires and billionaires have more and more. No progressive government should ask its employees to work for less. Instruct state agencies to request no concessions from unionized public employees. Insist that state contractors demand no concessions in their collective bargaining agreements with their workers. Current agreements should be the floor. Public services like education, and healthcare should be fully funded so that workers can provide the best service to all people in New York State. (see tax the rich for details on funding)

  • Support worker organizing. All workers deserve a union. Find ways the government can support organizing drives at major employers to raise union density in New York. Stop state subsidies and contracts to union busting employers. Demand all companies that receive state or city support, or contract for the state or city offer card check neutrality. 

  • Support strikes. Workers should receive unemployment insurance starting first week of striking.

  • Extend labor rights to workers excluded from National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), such as domestic workers and farm workers, whose exclusion is a direct legacy of slavery. New York must legislate rights for these workers as well as other workers excluded such as independent contractors.