LIZ'S PLAN FOR GOOD JOBS
People who work hard and play by the rules should be able to earn a good living for themselves and their families. They should have the freedom to pursue the American Dream of home ownership, high-quality child care, affordable college or job training, and a safe and dignified retirement.
Indiana has the potential to deliver for hardworking families and small business owners. We have strong public schools and thriving career and technical education programs. We also have a large manufacturing sector, which is a source of good-paying, steady jobs. At about three percent, our unemployment rate is well below the national average.
But our economy isn’t working the way it should: too many people are stuck with low wages while costs keep rising. Working people have more than doubled our nation’s productivity in the last four decades, yet their wages have barely grown. At the same time, CEO pay has risen by more than 900 percent. This isn’t good for families, and it isn’t good for our economy. It’s not fair that Hoosier families are struggling to keep their heads above water.The minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 per hour for the past decade, which leaves families who work full-time, year-round living in poverty. Today, nearly 14 percent of families in our district have household incomes below the poverty line.
Working people who are underpaid cannot invest in their families, their neighborhoods, and or retrain for the jobs of the future. Hoosiers deserve a long overdue raise, access to training for in-demand careers, fair treatment on the job, help juggling work and family life, and a secure and dignified retirement. They also need the freedom to join together at work to speak up for their fair share. But for far too many, these basic protections have slipped out of reach.
The solutions to these problems are there, if we are ready to stand up for what’s fair. We need a new economic approach that helps working people and businesses, not just the one percent. We have to decide whether we are going to let special interests continue to manipulate the rules of our economy for their own short-term gain, or whether we’re going to invest in the future of our families and our nation.
Invest In Our Workforce
In my travels in the district, I heard about a woman who did everything right. She enrolled in a two-year college and earned her degree. Yet, she was still working in fast food and stuck paying off school loans because her degree hadn’t led to a good-paying job. This young woman deserves better. We have employers who want higher-skilled employees, and employees who want training for higher-skilled jobs. This means making two-year and four-year college affordable, investing in “earn as you learn” apprenticeship programs that have a proven track record of success, and working with Indiana’s employers so that workforce training programs better meet industry needs. It also means supporting students who are in these programs with help paying for the child care and transportation many of them need to succeed. With a rapidly changing and increasingly digital economy, we must do everything we can to ensure that Indiana’s workforce training system is ready to help working people gain the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the future.
Give Working People A Long Overdue Raise
In every county in the district, the minimum wage is insufficient to support a single adult, let alone a family. Hoosiers should get the long overdue raise they deserve. I helped lead the fight in Congress for the Raise the Wage Act, legislation that gradually increases the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024. It also ties the minimum wage to the median wage, so that the minimum wage will continue to be meaningful over time. We can also put more money in the pockets of hardworking Hoosiers by taking steps to make more people eligible for overtime pay. When working people earn more, they pump that money back into our economy, by spending it on goods and services, which in turn helps create more good-paying jobs. Raising the minimum wage will also decrease reliance on public benefits. This frees up our taxpayer dollars to be spent on our schools and public services, rather than on subsidizing low-wage employers.
Give Working People The Freedom To Negotiate For Their Fair Share
When people are in unions, they earn a third higher wages, and they are more likely to have benefits. It is not only union members who do better; their children have better outcomes than non-union workers. What’s more, their communities are more likely to have higher minimum wage laws, and offer basic protections like paid sick days and family leave. Yet, unions have been under attack in Indiana for far too long through our state’s right-to-work law, and bills are moving through Congress to gut protections for working people who want to organize. I will fight back against these attacks and help restore people’s ability to come together to bargain for their fair share.
Invest In Job Creation
Making real investments in our nation’s roads, bridges, and highways, our crumbling schools and other public buildings, as well as in broadband access, will bring good-paying jobs to Indiana and help our economy thrive. This ought to be a bipartisan issue, but unfortunately, the infrastructure proposals from this administration so far have come in the form of tax breaks for giant corporations. Making investments in renewable energy jobs—like wind and solar—can help bring good-paying jobs to Indiana that cannot be outsourced, while also protecting our environment and lowering our energy costs. It’s time to get serious about investing in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, investments that we need to support a thriving economy.
Help People Juggle Work And Family Life
In most households today, all adults are working. We need to update our workplace rules to bring them in line with the needs of the 21st century workforce. Indiana recently ranked 51st and received an “F” gradein a nationwide survey of work and family conditions. We can do better. It’s time to end the abusive practice of unpredictable scheduling in low-wage jobs, start providing paid sick days and paid family leave, and ensuring equal pay for equal work. These are sensible rules that would give working people the freedom to take care of their families, improve employee retention and productivity, and help grow our economy.
Promote Fair Workplaces
Too many working people are struggling with anemic paychecks because they aren’t getting equal pay for equal work. In Indiana, the typical woman earns only 75 cents for every dollar earned by men. Women in Indiana lose a total of $10 billion a year due to the wage gap. When women and workers of color are paid unfairly this sets entire families back. We must ensure that all workers—no matter their race, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity—have a fair shot at a good-paying job.
Ensure A Safe And Secure Retirement
Today, nearly half of all families in the U.S. have no retirement savings. And far too many of our seniors are living in poverty. Fewer and fewer Americans today can rely on pension plans through their employers, and too many of those who do have pensions have to worry about those plans being underfunded. We must address the need for pension reform, and the federal government should not stand in the way of states’ efforts to create tools to help working people save for retirement.
End Unfair Trade Deals
Too many manufacturing jobs have been shipped overseas as a result of bad trade deals that make it cheaper and easier for companies to offshore jobs rather than hiring American workers. The first priority in any trade policy must be safeguarding good-paying jobs for American workers. But our trade policy has prioritized the interests of multinational corporations over American workers. That has to stop. I will fight to ensure that any trade deal protects the rights of working people at home and abroad, as well as the environment. There is simply no excuse for using bad trade deals to ship American jobs outside our borders.