100 Days for America’s Workers: Policies to Jump-Start a Living Wage Recovery

For too long, policymakers have relegated America’s workers to the federal policy backburner. Rising poverty, falling wages, growing economic insecurity, and workplace abuses like wage theft are just some of the consequences of policies that sanction squeezing workers to boost corporate profits while largely shunning “interference” in business—except when businesses need bail-outs.

We have an opportunity to change this dynamic, to move the well-being of America’s workers front and center on the policy agenda.

Putting America’s workers front and center on the federal policy agenda requires that we get serious about the urgent jobs crisis facing the nation. Simply put, we do not have enough jobs for all who want and need to work, and increasingly, our jobs do not pay the living wages and provide the benefits needed for a recovery that extends economic security and opportunity to all of America’s workers. The jobs crisis is already devastating millions of working families while keeping the economy weak, and unless we intervene now, it promises to reap dividends of despair in the future too.

In this document, NELP lays out five straightforward and concrete policy proposals for the first 100 days of the new term—100 Days for America’s Workers—that will improve the lives of millions, while giving the economy a sustained boost. Specifically, our leaders should:

  1. Renew Federal Unemployment Insurance
  2. Protect Home Care Workers on the Job
  3. Invest in Creating Good Jobs
  4. Raise the Minimum Wage
  5. Strengthen Enforcement of Workplace and Civil Rights

This is not a comprehensive policy agenda; it does not dig deep into a number of essential reforms. We know, for example, that ending workplace exploitation requires comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship, as well as new measures to restore the freedom of workers to join together and bargain collectively; we are deeply committed to these and other crucial workplace reforms and will fight for their swift enactment. In this agenda, however, we focus on five discrete policies that are already well developed and ripe for immediate action. We urge the President and Congress to move quickly on these proposals, which address some of the most urgent problems facing America’s low-wage and unemployed workers today.

The first 100 days will reveal whether Congress and President Obama can truly put partisanship aside and work in the best interests of America’s working men and women. Our policy proposals offer a route into that collaboration, a way to begin to restore the promise of opportunity, mobility, and security through work.

The jobs crisis is immediate, and solving it is urgent. As President Obama has said, “We can’t wait.”

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