On Defending Democracy and Advancing Workers’ Rights at the Ballot Box and Beyond

Washington, DC — Following is a statement by Rebecca Dixon, executive director of the National Employment Law Project:

“As we await the final results of the presidential election at this pivotal moment for our democracy, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) joins in solidarity with people all around the country who are coming together to defend our democracy and demand that every vote is counted. The will of the voters decides elections.

“While the huge volume of absentee and early ballots still to be counted may be unique to the 2020 elections, counting absentee ballots after Election Day is not—it happens routinely and is a normal part of the process and must be completed.

“In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and despite deliberate voter suppression comprised of disinformation, attempts to eliminate drop-off locations, intimidation, and white supremacist violence—more than 100 million people voted early. Now, the people who are calling for our democracy to be protected and for every vote to be counted must be kept safe in the days to come, online and on the streets.

“No matter the result of these elections, NELP will contribute to strengthening our democracy by supporting Black, immigrant workers in building power and fighting for a just recovery and secure, stable, and safe jobs.

Results of Key Workers’ Rights Proposals Around the Country  

“Over the past four years, workers’ rights have been under attack while corporations’ power has been further consolidated—yet workers and advocates have fought back at the state and local levels. That trend continued this election season with key ballot box efforts in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, and Maine.

  • In Florida, voters embraced Amendment 2, which will gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2026—continuing the momentum of the Fight for $15 movement and making Florida the eighth state (and the second most populous one) to get on the path to $15. Including Florida, 36 percent of the U.S. labor force will now be covered by laws gradually raising the minimum wage to $15. This is a big win for the Fight for $15 movement and shows once again that raising wages for workers in the lowest-paid jobs is an issue that all voters can get behind.
  • In Maine, voters in two cities—Portland and Rockland—approved measures gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 (and furthermore in Portland, a $22.50 “hazard pay” minimum wage during states of emergency).
  • In Colorado, voters approved Proposition 118, the Paid Medical and Family Leave Initiative, which will allow for 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave funded through a payroll tax paid by both employers and employees. Workers earning less than half of the state’s average pay would get the highest percentage of their salaries, at 90 percent. Under this new law, workers are also protected from employer discipline or retaliation for requesting or using paid leave.
  • In Arizona, voters passed Proposition 208, the Invest in Education Act, which will raise teacher salaries by increasing taxes on the state’s highest earners.
  • California voters, however, passed Proposition 22, the App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative. NELP is proud to be in solidarity with the courageous workers and advocates in California who led the #NoOnProp22 campaign, and with the global movement to defeat these efforts to undermine workers’ rights championed by Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart. We will continue to fight racist anti-worker laws pushed by corporations that sell labor on apps, and together we will win the protections that Black, immigrant, and all workers need. The passing of Prop 22 means that California app-based workers—notably the Black and Latinx workers who are overrepresented in these jobs—will not be able to claim the rights to fair pay, economic stability, and safety on the job that justly belong to them as employees. The corporations behind the “Yes on Prop 22” campaign resorted to dirty and dangerous online harassment and pressured workers nonstop to vote for their racist business model. Instead of providing basic protections to their workers, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart spent close to $200 million to mislead voters. In spite of Prop 22’s passage, NELP is committed to ensuring that all workers have economic security and protections against exploitation.

“As we await the final outcome of the presidential race, people of conscience around the country are rising up and speaking out against disinformation, white supremacist ideology, and voter suppression. We must continue to denounce intimidation and fight against premature cut-offs of the counting process and frivolous lawsuits seeking to invalidate people’s votes. At this crucial time, all of us must join together to ensure that every vote is counted and the will of the people is honored and upheld in our democracy.”

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About the Author

Rebecca Dixon

Areas of expertise:
  • Occupational Segregation,
  • Program Management,
  • Unemployment Insurance,
  • Workplace Equity

NELP is led by President and Chief Executive Officer Rebecca Dixon. Rebecca is a respected national leader in federal workers’ rights advocacy and is in great demand for her thought leadership on issues of labor and racial, gender, and economic justice.

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