Trump and Clinton are not easy to pin down on the issue of Labor
By: Jim Williams – Washington Bureau Chief – News Talk Florida
WASHINGTON – It is the Labor Day weekend and starting Tuesday families all around the United States, will be back from vacation and kids will be back in school. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump will start the final dive to election day, voters in Florida will get plenty of opportunities to see and hear both candidates.
Florida voter’s need to know where both candidates stand on three key labor issues Union’s, Wages and Paid Leave. As you might expect as is the case on many major issues nothing is really clear looking into labor stances but here we go.
Let’s start with wages:
Bernie Sanders started the so-called “Fight for $15” which has been picking up momentum across the country, and the lowest-wage workers have seen some of the biggest pay increases recently. Opponents of raising the federal minimum wage to $15 say it will hurt small businesses and cause layoffs as more jobs will be outsourced or automated.
The “Fight for $15,” that Bernie Sanders drove home and was adopted by the platform committee at the Democratic Convention. Clinton supports a raise in the minimum wage to $12, but will “support state and local efforts to go even higher,” per her campaign website.
Clinton’s proposal is modeled after New York’s: While the five boroughs of New York City and their suburbs are guaranteed a $15 minimum to be phased in by the end of 2021, with an exception: “non-fast-food workers upstate” will cap out at $12.50 minimum wage by the end of 2020 (and the state will re-examine the situation after that), as Slate explains. In other words, Clinton will encourage regional labor markets that can handle a $15 minimum to adopt it, but she sets the federal level at $12.
Donald Trump: It’s hard to track Trump’s position on whether or not to raise the federal minimum wage (which is currently set at $7.25 per hour). As the Washington Post explains, “he has been on nearly every side of the issue.”
At least in the beginning of his campaign, Trump has said he did not support an increase in the minimum wage. In August 2015 he said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, “I think having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country.”
“If we raise it we’re not going to be able to compete with the rest of the world,” he said during a debate in November 2015. A few months later, in May, he said in an interview with CNN he believes the minimum wage should be increased.
His most recent comments on the issue came in a conversation on CNN. “I’m very different from most Republicans. You have to have something you can live on,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. On Aug. 1, a campaign official told the Washington Post that Trump supports raising it to $10 per hour at the federal level.
Let’s move on to the issue of Paid Leave something most families are very interested in finding out about.
The U.S. is one of two countries in the world (the other being Papua New Guinea) that doesn’t offer paid leave. This hurts workers, especially women, and families. A poll from May shows 72% of Americans support paid family leave.
Hillary Clinton: She has made instituting paid leave policies an important part of her campaign. According to her website, Clinton’s proposal calls for up to 12 weeks of guaranteed paid family and medical leave, with workers making at least two-thirds of their current wages.
A spokesperson for the Clinton Foundation says it offers employees who are primary caregivers with a guaranteed paid leave benefit of 12 weeks following birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child, and secondary caregivers with six weeks of paid leave.
Donald Trump: Trump has no official plan to institute paid parental or medical leave. At the Republican National Convention last month, his daughter, Ivanka, claimed that it was a priority for him. Support for paid leave is not in the Republican Party’s official platform, and Trump has been pretty quiet on the issue. It’s also unclear what, if any, leave Trump allows employees at his various companies, as the Daily Beast detailed last month.
In an interview with Fox Business, Trump said of paid leave, “We have to keep our country very competitive, so you have to be careful of it.”
Lastly, let’s take a look at the Clinton and Trump relations with the Unions.
Labor Day celebrates the accomplishments of the labor movement in their fight for worker’s rights and pay. In 2015, 11.1% of workers in the U.S. belonged to a union, down from over 20% in the 1980s, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, union workers and the middle class more generally have been the focal point of both candidates this election.
Hillary Clinton: Clinton’s relationship to labor is complex and ever-changing. Her website says she will fight to “protect collective bargaining rights and strengthen America’s labor movement,” though it doesn’t go into any details.
Clinton initially supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade pact between the U.S. and 11 nations in the Americas and Asia. The TPP issue has been a sore point to many blue-collar workers, who believe it will accelerate the demise of numerous U.S. industries if ratified. She now claims she does not support the agreement.
Many of America’s big unions, including the largest, the AFL-CIO, have endorsed Clinton. But her support for the North American Free Trade Agreement and the TPP could hurt her with individual union members. Critics also point out her membership on the board of Walmart and slow acceptance of the $15 minimum wage as indicators that she is no champion of unions.