Thursday, September 18, 2008

Presidential Candidate Obama and Workplace Rights

What does the outcome of the election mean to the average worker?

Here are some highlights from Presidential Candidate Barack Obama's official website:

Obama says that
if elected President he would:

1. Strengthen the ability of workers to organize unions by fighting for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act

2. Ensure that his labor appointees support workers’ rights

3. Work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers

4. Increase the minimum wage

5. Index the minimum wage to inflation to ensure it rises every year

Obama believes that workers should have the freedom to choose whether to join a union without harassment or intimidation from their employers. Obama has fought the Bush National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) efforts to strip workers of their right to organize.

He is a cosponsor of legislation to overturn the NLRB’s “Kentucky River” decisions classifying hundreds of thousands of nurses, construction and professional workers as “supervisors” who are not protected by federal labor laws.

If elected President, Obama says he also would:

1. Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs

2. Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act and encourage flexible work schedules

3. Initiate a strategy to encourage all 50 states to adopt paid-leave systems

4. Provide a $1.5 billion fund to assist states with start-up costs and to help states offset the costs for employees and employers

5. Enforce the recently-enacted Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines on caregiver discrimination

6. Create a program to inform businesses about the benefits of flexible work schedules

7. Help businesses create flexible work opportunities

8. Increase federal incentives for telecommuting

9. Make the federal government a model employer in terms of adopting flexible work schedules and permitting employees to request flexible arrangements

Source: Obama/Biden Website: Issues: Economy: Labor,, accessed 9/18/08

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Kim's Editorial Note: As a small business owner and workplace rights attorney, I find that these proposals balance the legitimate business needs of the business owners with the rights of the employees and address serious concerns in the workplace.

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