Rebuilding Our Economy
Standing Up for Workers and Working Families
Over the last 20 years, the gap between the wealthy and the middle class has grown significantly. Families who were once comfortably in the middle class are now struggling to cope with record high prices for food, food and health care – while also providing a decent future for their families and children. A strong economy is the single most important factor in making the American Dream possible. I am proud to support legislation that stands with workers and working families and helps to alleviate the challenges they face.
Raising the Minimum Wage
In the United States, everyone should be able to access basic necessities like food and shelter. However, the current federal minimum wage is too low to adequately support someone working hard to make ends meet. At $7.25 an hour, the minimum wage pays only $15,000 per year, placing a family of three thousands of dollars below the poverty line. For hardworking Americans seeking economic security for themselves and their families, this is simply not good enough.
That is why I support raising the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour. It can be very difficult to raise a family in this economy, and hardworking Americans deserve to be properly compensated. This bill is a step in the right direction.
Closing the Wage Gap
Despite the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women in the United States are paid on average just 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. In 2009, I was proud to vote for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and watch President Obama sign it into law. This important legislation clarified that pay discrimination constitutes a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As long as workers file their lawsuit within 180 days of receiving a discriminatory paycheck, their charges would still be considered timely.
Further, I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act. This bill aims to eliminate the gender wage gap by allowing women to collect punitive as well as compensatory damages for pay discrimination. The Paycheck Fairness Act also offers negotiation skills training to women and girls as well as resources to small businesses to promote pay equity in the workplace. Paycheck fairness is not only good for women, but also good for the economic security of American families.
Improving Family and Medical Leave
In this economic climate, no one should have to worry about losing his or her job due to family obligations or medical necessity. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 was passed to allow employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period to care for a family member, newborn, newly-adopted child, or newly-placed foster child. While this landmark legislation made great strides to help families during difficult and joyous times, we still have a long way to go to improve protected leave.
That is why I am a cosponsor the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, a bill that extends the legacy of the FMLA through 12 weeks of paid leave. I am also a cosponsor of the Healthy Families Act, which permits employees to earn at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Hardworking Americans should not have to choose between their health or the health of a family member and their paycheck.
Protecting the Workplace Rights of Pregnant Women
Women make up nearly half of the American workforce, yet their job security is often threatened when they become pregnant. As a husband and father, I am proud to cosponsor the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a bill making it unlawful to force pregnant women out of the workplace or deny them reasonable accommodations that would enable them to continue providing for their families.