CHRISTINA AVALOS-68th STATE ASSEMBLY
1. FREEDOM TO CHOOSE A UNION
The right to form a union and engage in collective bargaining is enshrined in U.S. and international human rights laws, but for many U.S.
workers it is a right that exists only on paper. More and more, workers who want to join together to form unions typically face intense employer
opposition aimed at suppressing their freedom to unionize and bargain collectively. Workers, their families and the entire nation are paying a high
price for the suppression of these basic freedoms. Wages have been suppressed, especially for workers on the lowest rungs of the job ladder
—many of them women, minorities and immigrants. Secure guaranteed pensions and decent health care coverage common under union contracts
have been denied to millions of nonunion workers who want collective bargaining but cannot have it. Disparities in income and wealth have reached
levels not seen since the Great Depression, as workers blocked from access to collective bargaining lack the power to redress rising economic
Cornell University’s Kate Bronfenbrenner, when private-sector workers try to organize a union, 89 percent of employers force them to
attend closed-door anti-union meetings and 77 percent have supervisors deliver anti-union messages to workers they oversee. Seventy-five
percent hire outside consultants to run anti-union campaigns, more than half threaten to shut down if the union is voted in and 34 percent
illegally fire workers.
Even when workers win a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election to form a union, one-third of the time their employer never
negotiates a contract with them. And the penalties for all these forms of employer misconduct are so mild they do not serve as a deterrent
to future misconduct.
The law giving working people the legal
right to form a union through NLRB elections is so weak, in fact, it is
becoming irrelevant for workers
seeking to improve their lives. Instead
of a workers’ rights law, it has become a structure for management to
pressure and intimidate workers
to reject unionization.
The current system for workers to form
unions is broken. It must be repaired urgently to give all
working people the freedom to make
their own choice about whether to form a union and bargain with management for better wages and benefits. We know from over 70
years of experience with the National
Labor Relations Act (NLRA) that there is one proven way to give working
people freedom to make
their own choice: it’s called “majority
sign-up.” The NLRA has always allowed workers to form
unions through “majority sign-up,” that
is, when a majority of employees sign cards authorizing the union to bargain on their behalf with management. Since 1935 majority sign-up
has been shown to reduce conflict, coercion, harassment and delay, as compared to the NLRB election process. But under current law,
workers can only form a union through
majority sign-up if their employer agrees to recognize the union.
This makes no sense.
Management should not get to dictate
whether workers can use majority sign-up or whether they have to go
through the NLRB
election process, which typically
triggers an inherently coercive anti-union campaign. Workers
should be allowed to form unions through
majority sign-up regardless of whether
management agrees, as they did in the early years of the NLRA. We
know from experience
that, while majority sign-up promotes
employee free choice by reducing coercion and intimidation by
management, it has not resulted in any
significant problems over the past 70 years.
If elected, I will co-sponsor and vote for the Employee Free Choice Act (S. 560/H.R. 1409). Identical legislation passed the House by
a vote of 241-185 on March 1, 2007 but was blocked by a Senate filibuster in June 2007 (the Senate failed to invoke cloture by a vote
of 51-48 vote)? Ted The Employee Free Choice Act, introduced by the late
Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy in the Senate and
Representative George Miller in the House would
require employers to honor their workers’ decision to join a union after
of them signed a union authorization card or
petition; establishes first contract mediation and arbitration; and,
penalties against employers who interfere with, coerce or fire workers for attempting to join a union.
If elected, I will publicly support workers who are forming unions by reaffirming the importance of unions to our communities and by
taking actions such as contacting employers and
urging them to not interfere with employee free choice, issuing public
attending rallies supporting organizing, sponsoring public forums, etc.
If elected, I will oppose a national “right
to work” bill that would prohibit unionized workers and their employers
agreeing to “union security” provisions, which
allow the union to recover the costs of collective bargaining from all
of the workers
that federal law requires it to represent in the workplace.
Yes, I am committed to advocate for the rights of workers to join and form unions locally, nationally and internationally. I will also work to develop and implement legislation for workers and their employers to both benefit in forming unions as a collaboration process by supporting unions through legislation and national public awareness.
2. JOBS AND THE ECONOMY
For most U.S. workers, a good job means the difference between economic independence and diminished, if not dashed, hopes. The U.S.
economy has lost 8 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. Our manufacturing sector has been hit hardest, losing
2.1 million jobs since the recession began, and losing 5.9 million jobs (1/3rd of all manufacturing jobs) since the peak of manufacturing
in March 1998. Other sectors such as telecommunications
and information technology have sustained major blows as well.
Between March 2001 (the peak of information employment) and September 2009, the number of information jobs fell by nearly 1/4th
(24 percent); over the same time period, telecommunications employment fell by 1/3rd (33 percent).
Construction jobs benefited from the boom economy of the 1990s but suffer from the federal government’s failure to invest public funds in
essential public projects such as transportation, schools, water systems and other infrastructure. For every $1 billion invested in
transportation, 47,000 jobs are created. The number of construction jobs in the U.S. has fallen by 1/5th (20 percent) since the recession
U.S. unemployment, which dipped below 4 percent in 2000, was 9.8% in September 2009– and this high rate fails to take into account the
hundreds of thousands who have dropped out of the labor force. Long-term unemployment is at historic levels, with 21.8 percent of all
unemployed workers out of work for 27 weeks or longer in September 2009. Between December 2008 and mid-October 2009, a record
3 million unemployed workers ran out of state unemployment benefits without finding a job and without any federal unemployment safe
ty net. Competition for jobs is fierce; for every job opening in August 2009, there were 6.3 unemployed people, up from 1.7 unemployed
people for every job opening in December 2007. Workers’ real wages, which rose across the board in the late 1990s, are stagnating,
and family incomes are flat.
Income inequality in this country is higher than ever, highlighted by the fact that average CEO pay is 319 times the earnings of frontline
workers. The nation’s 15,000 richest families, a mere 0.01 percent of the population, took home 6.04 percent of total income in 2007,
higher than at any point in time including 1928.
Meanwhile, Bush Administration policies,
including the massive tax cuts passed during
the first three years of the Bush administration, are
responsible for 40
percent of our nation’s budget woes. These policies,
including the tax cuts that primarily benefited wealthy
crowded out other critical investments such as repairing our schools,
securing our homeland and providing health care to
the more than 46 million uninsured Americans
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) enacted by the Obama Administration was a bold and well-crafted program
to generate and save jobs, to provide social supports for those in need and to lay the foundation for future growth. It has already
started delivering and is on track to generate roughly three million jobs and to lower unemployment by up to two percentage points.
Unfortunately, because of the confluence of so many long-term negative trends in place for many years, the economy and the labor
market have seriously deteriorated since the ARRA was designed, and the original economic recovery plan is no longer sufficient.
There is no viable alternative to public investment right now.
If elected, I will support in advocating the Bush tax cuts for the top income brackets to expire.
If elected, I will support a second fiscal stimulus to aid state and local government and mitigate cutbacks that threaten vital services and jobs, including health and education, police and firefighting, transportation and other public services.
If elected, I will support creating a publicly-financed jobs program to put Americans back to work in public service jobs, such as restoring our national and neighborhood parks, environmental clean-up, stream restoration, community policing, before- and after-school care of children, demolition or boarding up of abandoned houses and buildings, home health care, and preservation of historic buildings.
If elected, I will advocate an increase in the minimum wage to historic levels.
If elected, I will support indexing the minimum wage to ensure automatic increases on an annual basis.
3. MANUFACTURING AND THE GLOBAL ECONOMY
Our manufacturing sector has been hit hard. Long before the onset of the financial crisis last year, U.S. manufacturing had already suffered
tremendous losses –millions of jobs between 2001 and 2008. Now, manufacturing is in even worse shape. Lack of consumer demand and access
to credit has put the squeeze on many manufacturers, who will have to close their doors if help does not arrive soon. Unfair trade practices are also
taking a toll on manufacturing, as subsidized or dumped imports flood the U.S. market – displacing goods made by U.S. workers. While stimulus
funds have brought much needed relief, the lack of public investments in the building blocks of a strong 21st century economy during the Bush
Administration mean that recovery will be slow and our competitiveness in manufacturing, in high-tech and clean energy goods, the products of the
future, will continue to wane long after the recession is over.
If the United States is to rise out of our current economic crisis and compete and thrive in a dynamic global economy in the 21st century, we
will need a coherent national economic strategy that encompasses domestic reinvestment and rebalancing, rebuilding our government and deep
reform of our flawed trade and investment policies. Below are just some of the issues needing urgent attention.
Trade: Our trade deficit is falling, but only because consumers, with less money in their pockets, have simply consumed fewer imports. Even
with this change, the U.S. trade deficit neared $700 billion in 2008. More troubling, our bilateral trade deficit with China has barely budged, standing
at $268 billion in 2008. The trade deficit, in part the result of failed policies, has meant the loss of millions of U.S. jobs over the last decade. We
need a strategic trade policy, one that puts a premium on promoting strategic exports and creating jobs here at home. The terms of those agreements
must be fair, and provide strong provisions that promote decent work and a clean environment for the people of both countries. We also need to
ensure that WTO negotiations and actions do not undermine our ability to use trade laws effectively.
Currency: Many countries engage in illegal currency misalignment, preventing market forces from determining the value of their currency. When
a country illegally misaligns the value of its currency, it makes its goods artificially cheaper and foreign goods more expensive, putting American
goods and services at a disadvantage in all markets. Currency misalignment thus operates both as a subsidy for foreign-made goods and a
tariff on American-made goods. This practice has greatly contributed to our international trade deficit, which imperils the recovery of the U.S.
economy and the world economy. Since 2001, China alone has run up a cumulative $1.4 trillion trade surplus with the United States. During this time
China has undervalued its currency by 30 percent or more to distort its gains from trade and illegally subsidize its exports. This practice harms U.S.
industries and destroys millions of American jobs. Coordinated action internationally, or unilateral action if needed, must be undertaken to address this
Worker Rights: The labor movement has opposed trade agreements that do not include enforceable protections for internationally
recognized workers’ rights. We have filed trade cases against the governments of China, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, among
others, for systemic violations of workers’ rights. The AFL-CIO supports trade policies that support the creation and maintenance of good
jobs at home and abroad, and require adherence to the International Labor Organization’s core workers’ rights. More must be done to
ensure that the provisions we negotiate in our trade agreement are fully enforced, so that workers too may gain from any trade-related benefits.
If elected, I will support efforts to strengthen trade law enforcement and efforts to secure meaningful remedies for injuries resulting
from unfair trade.
If elected, I will support legislation to reform tax provisions that encourage the movement of jobs and investment overseas.
If elected, I will oppose legislation to
implement bilateral, regional, or unilateral free trade agreements that
do not require
enforcement of internationally recognized workers’ rights and environmental standards.
If elected, I will oppose legislation that
implements rounds of the WTO that weaken U.S. trade laws, alter our
respect to immigration policies, or fail to make substantial progress on incorporating internationally recognized workers’ rights.
If elected, I will support adequate funding
to fight abusive international child labor and promote the enforcement
internationally recognized workers’ rights.
I will develop, advocate and co-sponsor legislation and policies that provides fair
economic and trade laws through
collaborating internationally i.e., United Nations,
for balancing trade with China and promote the rights of Chinese
especially the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.
If elected, I will support measures such as
the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act of 2009 (H.R. 2378/S. 1027), to
ensure that the
Chinese government and other foreign nations cease illegal currency manipulation.
4. HEALTH CARE
The lack of affordable, quality health care in
America continues to grow in scope and severity. Premiums
continue to rise faster than
inflation and wages. The number of
uninsured has grown to over 46 million. This growth in
uninsured is driven primarily by a decline in the
share of employers offering health insurance.
Firms that continue to offer coverage are asking workers to bear
a greater share of the cost
on their own, in the form of higher co-pays and
deductibles. For retirees, the picture is even bleaker.
The share of employers offering
retiree coverage has dropped substantially.
Without this coverage, retirees who do not qualify for Medicare
have very limited options for
obtaining affordable coverage. Unless
Congress acts to address the growing cost burden on employers, U.S.
companies will continue to
be at a competitive disadvantage in the global market.
Yet for all we spend on health care, there is
growing evidence that compromised quality is costing us too much in lost
lives and lost money.
100,000 Americans die each year due to avoidable medical errors, and patients have a 50-50 chance of getting the right care at the right
time. And about one third of all health care spending pays for poor quality care.
Unions bargain to provide health insurance to more than 40 million Americans. For more than a decade, working families have lived through a
vicious cycle of reduced health care access and
higher costs. The AFL-CIO supports measures that provide
quality health care for all Americans and strongly opposes any measure that will exacerbate the problem of the uninsured and rising health care
If elected, I will support and work to ensure guaranteed health care for all as a right and not a privilege.
If elected, I will support and work to defend and improve the landmark comprehensive health reform legislation passed by the 111th Congress.
If elected, I will support and work to enact additional health care reforms that take us in the direction of a social insurance model.
If elected, I support and will work to repeal and oppose any proposal to tax health care benefits or health care plans.
If elected, I will support legislation that
shores up retiree health benefits by either providing help for employers
health care costs or allowing 55 to 64 year olds to buy into Medicare.
If elected, I will support additional efforts to control rising pharmaceutical costs to make coverage more affordable for workers and
If elected, I will support legislation that
would establish minimum nurse staffing ratios and prohibit mandatory
overtime in our
nation’s hospitals to ensure safe patient care.
5. PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
The Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003 established a drug benefit that provides too little help for seniors’ drug costs and is delivered only through private plans that have broad discretion to determine what coverage to offer, what prices to charge and which drugs to cover. At the same time, the Act made significant structural changes to the Medicare program, providing substantial overpayments to private managed care plans. Implementation began in January 2006 and has revealed many of the shortcomings of the private plan approach and other provision of the law. Congress must enact improvements to the Part D prescription drug benefit and eliminate the overpayments to managed care plans in order to put traditional Medicare back on a level playing field with the private health plans.
If elected, I will support efforts to rein in rising drug prices, starting with requiring the Secretary of Health and Human Services to
use the bargaining power of 40 million Medicare beneficiaries to get better drug prices.
If elected, I will work to strengthen
traditional Medicare and shore up program financing, beginning with
preventing private plans
known as Medicare Advantage plans from undermining the program through inflated payments totaling $150 billion over 10 years
and “cherry picking” the healthiest seniors?
I would also support repealing the accounting trick known as the
“trigger,” which is designed to create a funding crisis that would require cuts be made.
If elected, I will work to fix the prescription drug benefit to make coverage more affordable and stable, including requiring Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices and providing beneficiaries with an option to get their drug coverage directly from Medicare rather than a private plan. Would you support using the savings from drug price negotiation and eliminating the Medicare Advantage plan overpayments to fill the gap in coverage and eliminate the asset test that has kept many low income individuals from enrolling and qualifying for financial help with their costs? Would you support repealing the income test for Part B premiums, which undermines the social insurance foundation of the program.
6. FINANCIAL REGULATION
Deregulated financial markets have taken a terrible toll on America’s working families. Whether measured in lost jobs and homes, lower earnings, eroding retirement security or devastated communities, workers have paid the price for Wall Street’s greed. But in reality, the cost of deregulation and financial alchemy are far higher. The lasting damage is in missed opportunities and investments not made in the real economy. While money poured into exotic mortgage-backed securities and hedge funds, our pressing need for investments in clean energy, infrastructure, education and health care went unmet.
So the challenge of re-regulating our financial markets, like the challenge of restoring workers’ rights in the workplace, is central to securing the economic future of our country and the world. In 2006, while the Bush administration was in the midst of plans for further deregulation, the AFL-CIO warned of the dangers of unregulated, leveraged finance. That call went unheeded as the financial catastrophe gathered momentum in 2007 and 2008, and now a different day is upon us. The costs of the deregulation illusion have become clear to all but a handful of unrepentant ideologues, and the public cast its votes in November 2008 for candidates who promised to end the era of rampant financial speculation and deregulation.
We must have routine regulation of the shadow capital markets. Hedge funds, derivatives and private equity are nothing new—they are just devices for managing money, selling insurance and securities and engaging in the credit markets without being subject to regulation. As President Obama said during the campaign, “We need to regulate institutions for what they do, not what they are.” Shadow market institutions and products must be subject to transparency and capital requirements and fiduciary duties befitting what they are actually doing.
In October 2008, when Congress authorized the $700 billion financial bailout, it also established an Oversight Panel to both monitor the bailout and make recommendations on financial regulatory reform. The panel’s report lays the foundation for what Congress and the Obama administration must do.
If elected, I will support a revitalized Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with jurisdiction to regulate hedge funds, derivatives, private equity and many new investment vehicles that are developed.
If elected, I will support the creation of a systemic risk regulator, a federal agency whose role it will be to provide financial stability.
6. LABOR STANDARDS
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the
nation’s basic labor standards law. It protects all
workers who might otherwise be subjected
to unfair wages, pay discrimination and extended
hours of work without overtime pay. The FLSA limits child
labor and industrial
homework and protects the disabled. FLSA protections are regularly under attack and are often eroded by lack of enforcement.
The Davis-Bacon Act requires the payment of
prevailing community wages on federally financed construction projects.
ensures local contractors that uphold prevailing
rates of pay and local labor standards in a geographic area a fair
chance to compete for
government projects without being undercut by
outside firms using cut-rate labor. The act also protects
the government from unreliable
operators seeking to win federal contracts by bidding too low to attract competent craftsmen.
The Service Contract Act (SCA) is based on the
principle that the federal government should not award contracts for
employers that underbid by paying workers less
than the actual rates of pay for the same work in a geographic area.
the living standards of those who are employed as a direct result of federal service contracts, particularly those in low-wage occupations.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993,
which requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid (but
family or medical leave, took a major step in
helping workers balance the demands of work and family. But
the effectiveness of the
FMLA is constrained by its limited coverage and
the inability of millions of workers to afford leave without pay, and
the FMLA is
threatened by employer-backed proposals to limit
the circumstances under which FMLA leave can be taken. Almost
41 million workers
are not covered by the FMLA and according to a
2000 Labor Department study, 78% of workers who needed leave but did not
said they could not afford to take it. To
address these shortcomings, Congress needs to expand FMLA eligibility
and provide for
limited wage replacement during periods of leave.
Congress must also resist calls by employers to curtail FMLA
rights by limiting the
circumstances under which employees can take
leave. And in addition to family and medical leave already
provided under the FMLA,
Congress should guarantee at least seven paid sick days for every worker.
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935 protects the right of workers to form and join unions and bargain for better working conditions, and allows workers at company’s local unit to unionize. The Railway Labor Act (RLA) of 1926, which applies to the aviation and rail industries, affirms the right of workers in those industries to organize and bargain collectively, but allows unionization only on a national scale – a far more difficult task. The largest package delivery companies have workers who perform virtually identical work, however some companies’ workers are governed by the NLRA, while workers at other companies fall under the RLA. For example, the United Parcel Service (UPS), which has both airline and trucking components of its business and competes with FedEx, is covered by the RLA for its airline operations and by the NLRA for its trucking operations. Unlike UPS, there is language in the law defining FedEx as an “express carrier”, dictating that all its workers are governed by the
RLA. The provision was placed in the law in 1996 to block efforts to organize a local union in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
If elected, I will work to oppose any effort
to exclude more workers from the protections of the 40-hour workweek or
to deny more
workers the absolute right to overtime pay.
If elected, I will work to oppose any effort
that allows employers to avoid paying cash overtime for work in excess
of 40 hours per
week or to exclude certain forms of compensation from the calculation of overtime pay.
If elected, I will oppose any proposed legislation that would either weaken or repeal the Davis-Bacon Act.
If elected, I will oppose any legislation that would weaken or repeal the Service Contract Act.
If elected, I will oppose any regulatory or legislative efforts that limit the circumstances under which an employee is able to take
If elected, I will support an effort to expand the FMLA to cover workers in companies with fewer than 50 employees.
If elected, I will support legislation to provide for wage replacement during periods of FMLA leave.
If elected, I will support legislation to require that companies guarantee seven paid sick day per year.
I will support a repeal of the “express carrier” language included in aviation law that impedes workers’ right to organize a union.
7. RETIREMENT SECURITY: PENSIONS AND SOCIAL SECURITY
Retirement security is fast becoming a goal
beyond the reach of most Americans. Our private pension
system is fraying, with fewer
workers now covered by pension plans. Only
one-tenth (11 percent) of private-sector employers now sponsor a
pension plan, covering one-fifth (21%) of private sector workers.
Companies increasingly view bankruptcy
as a business strategy to eliminate pensions. The
bankruptcy code provides little protection for
workers’ retirement security, as it promotes reorganization at
almost any cost. Companies in entire industries are able
to shed their pension
obligations with hardly a look back while the workers left behind have no legal claim for their benefits. Even healthy companies are reneging on
long-standing commitments to help provide their employees with a secure retirement by freezing their plans or closing them to new hires.
The facts about how little workers are saving for
retirement offer little hope that 401(k) plans or other contribution
plans will make up for the
loss of traditional pensions. Half
of all American families have no retirement savings whatsoever. Among
those near-retirement families
with some retirement savings, half have less than $83,000 – enough for a monthly retirement income at age 65 of only several hundred
dollars. Moreover, individual
savings plans, like 401(k) plans and IRAs as they exist today, do not
offer the benefits of real pensions which
include lifetime income, survivor and disability protections as well as early retirement benefits and post-retirement benefit increases, in many
cases. By contrast, individual
savings plans require workers to bear all the risk, are often
insufficiently diversified, suffer from poor
returns and typically carry very heavy fees and expenses.
Accordingly, although workers’ ability to achieve
retirement security has long been premised on a system of mutual
responsibility—employer provided pensions,
personal savings, and government-provided Social Security—only Social
guarantees a universal benefit. Social
Security is the foundation of retirement income for U.S. workers and
their families and the principal
insurance against family impoverishment due to
death or disability. It has reliably and efficiently
provided benefits to the elderly and the
disabled, helped millions of Americans escape poverty and given the elderly the financial means to live their last years with independence.
The Social Security system is an
extraordinarily well-crafted plan with a progressive benefits structure
that delivers higher returns to
lower-wage workers, ensures workers and beneficiaries will not outlive their benefits and protects those benefits from erosion by inflation.
The AFL-CIO is committed to corporate bankruptcy
reform that protects workers’ pensions and to providing a universal
retirement benefit to all workers through
collective bargaining and legislation. The AFL-CIO
supports legislation that would protect
benefits and strengthen the financial integrity of the Social Security system.
If elected, I will support measures to curb
corporate abuse of the bankruptcy process so that workers have a claim
in bankruptcy court
for lost pensions, just like unpaid wages.
If elected, I will support measures to ensure employer responsibility in providing workers with a secure retirement.
If elected, I will support measures to
protect the retirement savings of workers who participate in 401(k)s by
reducing the big fees
paid out their retirement accounts, ensuring their
access to independent investment advice and mandating worker
on 401(k) boards.
If elected, I will oppose measures that replace any part of Social Security’s guaranteed benefits with individual investment accounts.
If elected, I will oppose efforts to
increase the retirement age or to penalize workers who retire before
Social Security’s full benefit age
(which is already increasing to 67 under current law).
If elected, I will oppose measures that would reduce Social Security’s guaranteed defined benefit under current law.
If elected, I will support measures to
protect the retirement savings of workers who participate in 401(k)s by
diversification rights, ensuring their access to independent investment advice and mandating equal worker representation on 401(k)
8. OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH
Nearly four decades ago, Congress enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) in response to the unacceptable numbers of workers who were being killed or seriously injured in the workplace. Since then, significant progress has been made, but the toll of workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities remains high. Each year thousands of workers are killed and millions more injured or diseased because of their jobs. And some groups of workers, including Latino workers and immigrant workers, are at much greater risk due to the dangerous conditions and lack of protections. Millions of workers are not covered by the law, and for other workers, protections are inadequate.
Eight years of hostility and neglect by the Bush Administration eroded safety and health protections. That Administration repealed workplace ergonomic protections, withdrew dozens of important safety rules, favored employer voluntary compliance programs over enforcement and proposed budget cuts for job safety programs.
The Obama Administration is moving to strengthen worker safety protections appointing strong worker safety and health advocates to head OSHA and MSHA, increasing the job safety budget, enhancing enforcement and developing needed safety and health rules.
In the Congress, legislation has been proposed to expand the OSH Act’s coverage to all workers, to strengthen whistleblower protections and to strengthen enforcement, which the AFL-CIO strongly supports.
If elected, I will support proposed legislation to extend OSHA coverage to the millions of state and local employees currently excluded from the OSH Act.
If elected, I will support proposed legislation to strengthen whistleblower protections for workers who raise job safety concerns.
If elected, I will support proposed legislation that would make criminal violations involving a death of a worker a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
If elected, I will support a new OSHA ergonomics standard to protect workers from musculoskeletal disorders (e.g. back injuries, repetitive strain injuries), which account for 30% of all workplace injuries.
If elected, I will support increases in the job safety budget to strengthen standard setting, enforcement and worker safety and health training programs.
It is in the interest of our nation
that we maintain quality public education for everyone. Private
school vouchers, K-12 education savings
accounts and other schemes, such as education tax credits for
K-12 private school expenses, undermine public education by taking
funds away from public schools, which are open to all students, and shifting them to private schools.
Too many of our nation’s rural, suburban and urban public schools are overcrowded and in poor condition. A growing number of public
schools all across the country are being forced to set up
classrooms in trailers, hallways and closets in order to accommodate
their rapidly rising
enrollments. One-third of all public schools also need extensive repair or replacement.
If elected, I will actively oppose all
private school voucher proposals and other schemes intended to divert
taxpayer dollars from
public to private schools.
If elected, I will actively support
legislation that would help states and local school districts reduce
their class size, provide
embedded professional development and supports for
teachers and other school staff – particularly for staff working in
serving high numbers of disadvantaged students and finance school repair, construction and modernization projects at local prevailing
10. EQUAL PAY
In 1963, Congress passed the Equal Pay Act to end
the widespread practice of pay discrimination against women. The
Equal Pay Act
makes it unlawful to pay women less than men for
work deemed substantially equal and/or identical, unless the pay
difference is based on
seniority, experience or other legitimate
factors. Although equal pay has been the law for 44 years,
women are still paid less than
their male counterparts–—despite having similar education, skills and experience.
If elected, I will support federal legislation to end pay discrimination against women and provide more effective remedies for its victims.
Citing budgetary pressures and, in
some cases, ideology, government officials continue to support the
widespread use of private
contractors to perform government work. However,
recent studies have found that cronyism, cost overruns and poor
performance often result from
the rush to contract public work to the private sector. These studies have shown that privatization schemes are often shortsighted and unnecessary.
Moreover, the public sector should not be relying on private
firms to make crucial decisions where confidentiality, unbiased
and public accountability are paramount.
If elected, I will oppose efforts to
privatize public services and instead support efforts to work with
public employees to improve
services through cooperative job redesign, training and labor-management coordination.
12. IMMIGRANT WORKERS
The AFL-CIO supports
immigration reform that focuses on a model of shared economic prosperity
focused on productivity and strengthening labor standards for all.
Immigration reform must fully protect U.S. workers, reduce the
exploitation of immigrant workers and eliminate the competitive
advantage unscrupulous employers gain by hiring undocumented immigrants
rather than legal immigrants and U.S. workers at prevailing wages.
most effective way to prevent this race to the bottom is for all workers -- immigrant and native-born – to have the full protection of labor, health and safety and other laws.
The AFL-CIO supports immigration reform that includes five major interconnected pieces: (1) an independent commission to assess and manage future flows if immigrant workers, based on labor market shortages that are determined on the basis of actual need; (2) a secure and effective worker authorization mechanism; (3) rational operational control of the U.S. border; (4) adjustment of status for the current undocumented population; and (5) improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker visa programs, limited to temporary and seasonal, not permanent jobs.
If elected, I will support legislation that offers a comprehensive solution to our broken immigration system that will provide otherwise law-abiding undocumented workers and their families who work here and contribute to their communities with permanent legal status through an earned legalization program.
If elected, I will support immigration reform that protects all workers by establishing an independent commission that makes rational assessments of short-term and long-term labor market shortages and makes recommendations on the numbers of workers needed before considering expansion of existing temporary worker programs.
If elected, I will support legislative efforts to reform existing temporary worker programs immediately to enhance workplace protections, strengthen oversight and enforcement and create new methods to investigate and penalize employers who abuse workers.
14. NONDISCRIMINATION IN THE WORKPLACE
Since there is no federal law that prohibits
employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, it is
currently legal to fire working
men and women in 33 states because of their sexual orientation. As a result, working people can be denied employment opportunities on the
basis of something that has no relationship to
their ability to perform their work. The AFL-CIO strongly
discrimination based on sexual orientation.
If elected, I will oppose employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.
15. UNION DUES
As part of a continuing anti-labor effort to
weaken unions, legislation has been proposed at both the state and
federal levels to restrict the
ability of unions to collect and spend funds for
legislative and political activity. These bills would
prohibit unions from using dues to
fund voter registration, lobbying and all forms
of political communication. The proponents of so-called
“paycheck protection” legislation
argue that unions spend this money without the
consent of the membership. However, unions are voluntary organizations
that operate under
majority rule, and, in fact, large majorities of union members support their unions’ legislative and political activities.
If elected, I will oppose restrictions on the use of union dues for political and legislative activities.
16. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA VOTING RIGHTS
More than 500,000 U.S. citizens live in our nation's capital and fulfill the responsibilities of citizenship every day. However, while they serve in the armed forces, pay federal taxes, and sit on federal juries, they have no voting representation in the U.S. Congress. This intolerable situation is an affront to the very principles of democracy we hold dear.
I will support legislation that would partially remedy this grave injustice by allowing the delegate elected by citizens of the District of Columbia to vote in the House of Representatives.
Respectfully answered and submitted by:
Democratic Candidate of the 40th Congressional District
2010 CHRISTINA AVALOS CONGRESSWOMAN 2010