Amy Klobuchar on Jobs

DFL Sr Senator (MN); Democratic presidential contender


Strengthening unions key to rebalancing American capitalism

Union workers earn on average 20% more than non-union members in similar jobs, making unions a crucial counterweight to the enormous power of corporations in US labor markets. However, union workers have been under relentless attack over multiple decades, with the enactment of so called "right to work" laws whereby workers receive the benefits of union contracts without having to pay the union dues that support union activities. Congress and the states must act to protect collective bargaining rights, to safeguard unions and to increase the minimum wage so that workers can earn a living.

Strengthening unions is a key component of rebalancing American capitalism. Without strong unions and fully functioning National Labor Relations Boards that enforce the country's laws protecting unions, collective bargaining, and economic security, such as pension and retirement benefits, will lead to stronger competition, and a more solid economy, and higher wages.

Source: Antitrust, by Amy Klobuchar, p.192 , Apr 27, 2021

Non-compete employment agreements used to suppress wages

Non-compete agreements are used to suppress the wages of both high-skilled, high-wage jobs, with the terms of non-compete agreements almost always dictated exclusively by the employer. Employers have even attempted to use non-compete agreements to suppress the wages of minimum wage workers who are already struggling to make ends meet. In one particular egregious example, Jimmy John's--an Illinois-based sandwich chain--was found to be using non-compete agreements to bar departing employees from taking jobs with competing sandwich shops for two years after leaving the company. That was an outrageous effort to suppress wages by trying to deter employees from leaving for better paying employment opportunities. In June 2016, after an investigation by the New York Attorney General's Office, the company finally agreed to stop using that anti-competitive practice--one that targeted low-wage workers, putting them in fear of being sued if they left to work for a competitor.
Source: Antitrust, by Amy Klobuchar, p.263 , Apr 27, 2021

Union protection of mine workers

When my grandpa was an iron ore miner in the unions, politics made those mines safer. And when my dad needed treatment, it was there for him, and, in his words, he was "pursued by grace." And when my mom got divorced and she didn't have a job and she went back to teaching and that gift of public service got her through. And then when our daughter was born and she couldn't swallow. My motto was that politics is about improving people's lives.
Source: 10th Democratic Primary debate on eve of S.C. primary , Feb 25, 2020

Focus on rural & job aspects of green energy transition

Q: Do you support a jobs guarantee as part of a climate plan or do you think we risk losing support for a climate plan by mixing the issues of climate change and full employment?

KLOBUCHAR: I think that we have to make jobs and employment a major part of this. Let's look at the facts even in today's economy--wind & solar are some of the growing areas for new jobs. In today's economy 99% of the wind [energy generation] is going to be rural. So there's a lot of exciting things that can happen in rural America out of this. So there's a lot of new jobs. So for me, as you are transitioning out of coal--as you are replacing this oil with electric cars and other new technology--you make sure that people that are working in those fossil fuel industries have jobs. So we do worker training--to make sure that we're ready to find jobs that are suiting the skills that they've had that they've built over the years.

Source: CNN Climate Crisis Town Hall marathon (10 Democrats) , Sep 4, 2019

Enact laws to assure equal pay & equal opportunity

Pass the Equal Pay Act. That would be a very good thing. We already passed the Lilly Ledbetter Act. That was something that we were really proud of that made it easier for women to contest these kinds of cases when they're in the work place. I think also making it easier for women to get the kind of jobs they should. I would love to pass the ERA right. Get that cemented into law across the country and then make sure we have role models across the country.
Source: CNN Town Hall 2020: 5 candidates back-to-back , Apr 22, 2019

Minimum wage must be raised

It is an unbelievable thing that we have not increased the federal minimum wage for something like a decade. And it's just stuck where it is. And we should be increasing the minimum wage. That brings up the wage everywhere.
Source: CNN Town Hall: 2020 presidential hopefuls , Feb 18, 2019

Supported auto bailout to save local car dealerships

[After the 2008 economic downturn] the American auto industry was in deep trouble--Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection in April 2009, with GM following suit on June 1st--and the big car companies were threatening to close thousands of dealerships, often indiscriminately. Through my position on the Commerce Committee and with legislation and advocacy, and with the help of James Ahn of our staff, I fervently made the case for my state's dealerships and their employees, and, along with many others, helped to save more than twenty businesses. As a young girl I never would have guessed that I would be one day named the Minnesota Auto Dealers' "Legislator of the Year," but it happened.
Source: The Senator Next Door, by Amy Klobuchar, p.253 , Aug 24, 2015

Level playing field and fair prices for farmers

I will fight to make sure Minnesota farmers have the full opportunity to compete on a level playing field and get the fair prices they deserve. I oppose reopening the current farm bill before it expires, and I’m committed to making sure that Minnesota farmers get a fair deal with adequate compensation for disasters & price fluctuations in the next farm bill. I believe Minnesota farmers deserve to have Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) implemented for our homegrown Minnesota products, not just seafood!
Source: 2006 Senate campaign website, www.amyklobuchar.com, “Issues” , Jan 18, 2006

Form unions by card-check instead of secret ballot.

Klobuchar signed H.R.1409&S.560

Amends the National Labor Relations Act to require the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to certify a bargaining representative without directing an election if a majority of the bargaining unit employees have authorized designation of the representative (card-check) and there is no other individual or labor organization currently certified or recognized as the exclusive representative of any of the employees in the unit.

    Requires that priority be given to any charge that, while employees were seeking representation by a labor organization, an employer:
  1. discharged or otherwise discriminated against an employee to encourage or discourage membership in the labor organization;
  2. threatened to discharge or to otherwise discriminate against an employee in order to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of guaranteed self-organization or collective bardaining rights; or
  3. engaged in any unfair labor practice that significantly interferes with, restrains, or coerces employees in the exercise of such guaranteed rights.
    Source: Employee Free Choice Act 09-HR1409 on Mar 10, 2009

    Raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2016.

    Klobuchar co-sponsored Minimum Wage Fairness Act

    Congressional summary: Increases the federal minimum wage for employees to:

    1. $8.20 an hour beginning 6 months after enactment
    2. $9.15 an hour beginning 1 year later,
    3. $10.10 an hour beginning 2 years later, and
    4. an amount determined by increases in the Consumer Price Index, beginning annually after 3 years.

    Proponent`s argument in favor (RaiseTheMinimumWage.com): The federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour remains decades out of date, and the federal minimum wage for tipped workers--$2.13 per hour--has not increased in over 20 years. The minimum wage of the past provided significantly more buying power than it does today. The minimum wage of $1.60 an hour in 1968 would be $10.56 today when adjusted for inflation.

    Opponent`s argument against: (Neil King in Wall Street Journal, Feb. 24, 2014): The CBO concluded that a jump in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could eliminate 500,000 jobs. For Republicans, the report provided ammunition that a higher minimum wage would kill jobs. Democrats pointed to the CBO`s findings that the higher wage would lift 900,000 people out of poverty. But both sides missed a key finding: That a smaller hike from the current $7.25 to $9.00 an hour would cause almost no pain, and still lift 300,000 people out of poverty while raising the incomes of 7.6 million people.

    Congressional Budget Office report: Once fully implemented, the $10.10 option would reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers, or 0.3%. Some people earning slightly more than $10.10 would also have higher earnings, due to the heightened demand for goods and services. The increased earnings for low-wage workers would total $31 billion. Accounting for all increases and decreases, overall real income would rise by $2 billion.

    Source: S.1737 & H.R.1010 14-S1737 on Nov 19, 2013

    Let Senate cafeteria workers organize their own union.

    Klobuchar signed unionizing Senate cafeteria workers

    Excerpts from Letter from 31 Senators to the Compass Group: Senate cafeteria workers are currently pushing for a union through the majority sign up process, but their employer, the Compass Group, has resisted the drive, even after the NLRB upheld charges against the company regarding discriminatory behavior. Although the Compass Group promised the NRLB they would end further unlawful intimidation, the Compass Group has discouraged their organizing campaign.

    We request there that the Compass Group commit to reaching an agreement with the union seeking to organize these workers, and recognize the union as the worker`s exclusive bargaining representative on the basis of majority representation of signed authorization cards.

    OnTheIssues explanation: At issue is how the workers would unionize: the controversial aspect is the `majority of authorization cards,` known as `card-check,` which makes unionization much more likely.

    Opposing argument: (Cato Institute, `Labor`s Day is Over,` Sep. 6/2009): Card-check would effectively abolish the secret ballot in workplace elections for union representation. It would also require employers to submit to binding government arbitration if they cannot reach an agreement with union representatives, forcing companies to submit to contracts that may imperil their very survival.

    Opposing freedom argument: (Heritage Foundation, `Card Checks Block Free Choice,` Feb. 21, 2007): Union activists argue that publicly signing a union membership card in the presence of union organizers, known as card-check organizing, is the only way that workers can freely choose to unionize. However, with card checks, union organizers know who has and has not signed up to join the union. This allows them to repeatedly approach and pressure reluctant workers. With this technique, a worker`s decision to join the union is binding, while a decision to opt out only means `not this time.`

    Source: Letter to Compass Group 15LTR-COM on Nov 13, 2015

    Ban discriminatory compensation; allow 2 years to sue.

    Klobuchar signed Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

      Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to declare that an unlawful employment practice occurs when:
    1. a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice is adopted;
    2. an individual becomes subject to the decision or practice; or
    3. an individual is affected by application of the decision or practice, including each time wages, benefits, or other compensation is paid.
    Allows an aggrieved person to obtain relief, including recovery of back pay, for up to two years preceding the filing of the charge, where the unlawful employment practices that have occurred during the charge filing period are similar or related to practices that occurred outside the time for filing a charge. Applies the preceding provisions to claims of compensation discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

    [Note: A woman named Lilly Ledbetter filed a lawsuit for gender-based discriminatory compensation. The Supreme Court ruled that Ms. Ledbetter could only sue for damages going back 180 days, and the 180 days was calculated from the time her employment contract was initiated, i.e., her hire date. This new law changes the 180-day period to two years, and also calculates the date from the time of each paycheck, rather than the hire date. -- Ed.]

    Source: S.181&H.R.11 2009-S181 on Jan 29, 2009

    Stronger enforcement against gender-based pay discrimination.

    Klobuchar signed Paycheck Fairness Act

    Source: S.182&H.R.12 2009-S182 on Jan 8, 2009

    Sponsored bill for strengthening union organizing.

    Klobuchar co-sponsored PRO Act

    H.R.842 & S.420: Protecting the Right to Organize Act: This bill expands various labor protections related to employees` rights to organize and collectively bargain in the workplace:

    1. revises the definitions of employee, supervisor, and employer to broaden the scope of individuals covered by the fair labor standards;
    2. permits labor organizations to encourage participation of union members in strikes initiated by employees represented by a different labor organization (i.e., secondary strikes); and
    3. prohibits employers from bringing claims against unions that conduct such secondary strikes.
    The bill also allows collective bargaining agreements to require all employees represented by the bargaining unit to contribute fees to the labor organization for the cost of such representation.

    Biden Administration in SUPPORT: The Administration strongly supports The PRO Act. America was not built by Wall Street. It was built by the middle class, and unions built the middle class. Unions put power in the hands of workers. H.R. 842 would strengthen and protect workers` right to form a union by assessing penalties on employers who violate workers` right to organize.

    Rep. Mo Brooks in OPPOSITION: H.R. 842 [is] a radical union bill that tramples the rights of citizens by forcing them to enter into union servitude, including:

    Legislative Outcome:Passed House 222-204-4 (Rollcall 82) on 03/09/2021; received and read in the Senate on 3/23; no further Senate action during 2021.
    Source: H.R.842/S.420 21-HR842 on Feb 4, 2021

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