Pete Buttigieg’s “New Rising Tide” Agenda Will Empower American Workers

Detroit – At the CNN Democratic Presidential Debate in Detroit, Pete Buttigieg just spoke about the urgency of this moment and the need to fix our broken American economic system, telling the nation about his bold progressive vision to transform the economy and empower workers to ensure every American can share in our country’s growth. As we enter a new era marked by rapid transformation at a critical moment, Buttigieg’s “New Rising Tide” agenda would meet the challenges we face, raise wages and restore workers’ rights by:

Guaranteeing workplace protections

Establishing a $15 minimum wage

Ensuring equal pay and promotion for women

Expanding bargaining rights

Awarding government contracts to companies that treat their workers with dignity

Protecting undocumented workers from wage theft and ensuring mobility of their visas

Pete’s labor and wages plan was praised by state legislators, labor advocates, and the media:

“Anything protecting workers rights is a good thing because when you think about certain groups, there aren’t any protections there.” – Jeannette Smith, executive director of a Miami-based interfaith workers’ advocacy group

“With the rise of the gig economy, companies have come to rely on the work of temporary employees and independent contractors to get out of paying their workers the benefits and pay they deserve. Pete’s labor plan puts an end to this insidious practice by finally giving gig economy workers the right to unionize and earn a fair wage.” – State Rep. Willis Griffith, D-Manchester

“Taking on big tech in a big way.” – Poppy Harlow

“This plan is really aimed at protecting the American worker and really putting in the hot seat some of these bigger tech companies.” – Vanessa Yurkevich

“Ahead of his IA town hall tonight, @PeteButtigieg rolls out a robust economic policy focused on expanding collective bargaining rights, protecting workers, & wages.” – Priscilla Thompson


Buttigieg On The Relationship Between Economic Growth And Inequality: “It Must Be Possible To Have Growth Without Fairness Because In My Lifetime, We’ve Had The Rising Tide Rise More Than A Rising Tide’s Ever Risen, And Half The Boats Didn’t Go Anywhere” “It must be possible to have growth without fairness because in my lifetime, we’ve had the rising tide rise more than a rising tide’s ever risen, and half the boats didn’t go anywhere. So, I think what that tells us—unless you believe those were some undeserving boats, unless you believe the 400 people who have more between them than I think like 150 million Americans really are better than those 150 million Americans…So that question of fairness I think is alive and well and that question of fairness develops into a question of stability and security. Because no society has ever endured this level of inequality for long without some people resorting to social or political violence. We really need to ask ourselves about what this means for our sustainability as a country and our way of life, not just whether we think it’s right or wrong.” [Politics and Prose, 2/19/19]

Buttigieg: America Isn’t Even Leading In The Rate Of Citizens Accessing The American Dream Of Improving Their Economic Condition, “Only A Policy Overhaul Can Change That Future For The Next Generation To Come.” “Look, the American dream consists- You can measure the American Dream in a number actually, and that number is how many people were born in the bottom fifth of the country can make it to the top. That proportion is going down in our country. Matter of fact, the number one country in the world to live out that American dream today is Denmark. We’re not even in the top ten, last time I checked. And we’ve got to do more about that. That means a fairer tax code. That means investing in the things we disinvested in like education that have been a pathway to the middle class and beyond. Making sure the basics like safety, infrastructure, and healthcare—by the way, also to the extent that racial inequity is intertwined with the level of poverty you’re talking about. Also recognize how things like our War on Drugs and our policies of incarceration have made entire categories of people more likely to be poor and stay poor generationally. And only a policy overhaul can change that future for the next generation to come.” [WMUR-TV, 3/14/19]

Speaking To MSNBC’s John Harwood, Buttigieg Explained That Economic Inequality Has Reached Such A High Rate Due To Deliberate Policy Choices. “I think [economic inequality] is a vicious cycle. The economy is not some creature that just lumbers along on its own. It’s an interaction between private sector and public sector. And public sector policies, for basically as long as I’ve been alive, have been skewed in a direction that increasing inequality.” [MSNBC, 4/12/19]

Buttigieg: “Capitalism Has Let A Lot Of People Down.” “‘I think the reason we’re having this argument over socialism and capitalism is that capitalism has let a lot of people down,’ the South Bend, Indiana, mayor said in an interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow and John Avlon on ‘New Day.’” [CNN, 4/16/19]


In July 2019, Buttigieg Announced His “New Rising Tide,” A Plan To Ensure Economic Growth Is Something Felt By The Majority Of The American Workforce, Not Just The Wealthy Few. “the hard truth is that while the economy changed, workers’ voices were systematically silenced. Our economy has been tilted towards the wealthy and away from the middle and working class because the people in power designed our laws and policies that way. That’s especially true when it comes to workers of color and women, who have historically been undervalued and excluded in the workplace. To ensure every American has a fair shot, that has to change. As we enter a new American era, it’s time we restored fairness and balance to our economy, so that every American can share in our country’s growth. And it’s time to help our nation’s workforce become more resilient, inclusive, and flexible, and more easily adapt to our dynamic, ever-changing economy.” [Campaign website]

Buttigieg Did Not Hesitate To Identify Big Businesses Like McDonald’s, Uber, And Google That Actively Work To Decimate The Bargaining Power Of Their Employees. “Business models are changing bargaining power. For example, McDonald’s expanded across America while keeping wages low by refusing to bargain with workers who technically work for small local McDonald’s franchises. More than half of workers in Google’s offices do not share in Google’s success because they are domestically outsourced temps and contractors, while millions of Uber and Lyft drivers lack basic protections because they’re misclassified as independent contractors. Meanwhile, so-called “right-to-work laws” in many states have further undermined unions and workers. All of these changes have shifted bargaining power, bit by bit, from workers to their employers. That shift in bargaining power is a big part of why U.S. economic growth is no longer broadly shared.” [Campaign website]

Buttigieg: “Corporations Shouldn’t Get To Hide Behind Legal Technicalities That Let Them Mistreat And Push Workers Down.” “At the end of the day, this is about fairness. Workers should have an equal seat at the table. Corporations shouldn’t get to hide behind legal technicalities that let them mistreat and push workers down. If we work overtime hours, we should get overtime pay. We should also be able to bargain with a company to determine pay and work conditions. To make the 21st-century economy work for every worker, all of our nation’s workers should have the bargaining power they need to demand good jobs, fair pay, and safe workplaces.” [Campaign website]

Buttigieg Threw His Support Behind Several Legislative Proposals Seeking To Accelerate Wage Growth, Grant And Protect Labor Rights For All, Including Gig Economy Workers. “Pete also strongly supports the Raise the Wage Act, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, the Schedules That Work Act, the Healthy Families Act, the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, the EMPOWER Act, the BE HEARD Act, the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act, and the FAMILY Act. […] Pete also strongly supports the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act and the Public Safety Employer Employee Cooperation Act, because workers who choose to enter public service–whether federal, state, or local–should not have to give up their organizing rights in the workplace.” [Campaign website]

Additionally, Pete Has Pledged To Allow Gig Workers To Unionize, Crack Down On Payroll Fraud, And Ensure That Workers Can Clearly Bargain With The Companies That Set The Terms Of Their Employment. “Pete will support codifying the simple “ABC test” for classifying workers nationally in order to prevent workers in the gig economy from being denied minimum wage, overtime, and antidiscrimination protections–and their ability to unionize. Pete will support substantially increasing funding for the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), among other agencies that fight misclassification, to ensure that employers are not misclassifying their workers as contractors rather than employees. Companies like Google should not be able to hire contractors – from janitors to food service workers to managers to software engineers – that look like employees, but who cannot bargain with Google because they technically work for a staffing firm or other intermediaries. Pete will support codifying a strong “joint employer” standard to fix.” [Campaign website]

Buttigieg Not Only Pledged To Pass A $15 Federal Minimum Wage, But Index it To Wage Growth. “For too long, the typical worker’s wages have not kept up with expenses like health care, housing, and education. Pete wants to make sure that workers who are giving their all to an employer are getting paid fairly in return. By raising the federal minimum wage to $15, we can start taking steps to make sure that the economy is working for all workers. Over 33 million workers would benefit from raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025.51 We also need to index the federal minimum wage to median wage growth so that moving forward, both workers and employers know with certainty what it will be in the years to come. That’s why Pete strongly endorses the Raise the Wage Act.” [Campaign website]


Buttigieg Will Close The Gender Pay Gap By Passing The Paycheck Fairness Act And Instituting Gender Pay Transparency. “A thriving economy relies on empowering women’s potential. […] Pete will propose legislation to immediately make public the total pay gap at every large company: for every dollar that the company pays to male employees as a whole, how much does it pay to female employees? Unlike other data reporting proposals, the total pay gap does not require the government to collect any new information, can be released immediately, and is hard to game. Companies that employ mostly men, or that employ only men in their good-paying jobs, will have especially large pay gaps compared to their competitors. Those companies will face public pressure to pay women equally for equal work within jobs and also to hire, promote, and retain women throughout the pay scale.” [Campaign website]

The Rising Tide Plan Also Includes Passage Of Anti-Harassment And Gender Nondiscrimination Laws That Impact The Gender Wage Gap. “The pay gap has many causes, including harassment in the workplace and discrimination against women for things like pregnancy. That’s why Pete endorses the EMPOWER Act, to limit companies’ ability to keep harassment survivors quiet, the BE HEARD Act, to extend civil rights law prohibiting harassment to all workers and workplaces, and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, to ensure pregnant workers are not forced out of work when they need reasonable workplace accommodations. Pete will also evaluate child care and school enrollment and scheduling policies that can better align children’s school schedules with family and caregivers’ work schedules for the benefit of all.” [Campaign website]


Buttigieg Will Give Preference In Government Contracts To Firms That Treat Their Workers Well. “Since the 1960s, the federal government has led the way in fighting discrimination by requiring hiring practices that promote diversity at the many companies seeking to do business with it.44 In our changing economy, we need to use the power of the federal government to reward companies for taking the high road and treating their workers fairly. To that end, Pete will support legislation to give preference in the bidding process for federal contracts to companies that are unionized and offer good pay and benefits to all their workers. The federal government should not be using taxpayer money to support companies that do not support their workers. Pete would also prioritize strengthening and providing resources to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.” [Campaign website]


Buttigieg Will Ensure Workers Have Access To Paid Sick And Family Leave. “In addition to passing the Healthy Families Act, Pete would set up a national system of paid sick leave. For workers who do not receive at least 7 paid sick leave days from their employer, even under the Healthy Families Act, their employers would be required to pay in the equivalent of one hour of pay for every 30 hours they work, up to a total of 56 hours, into a state fund that these workers could draw from. If workers work for more than one employer, all employers they work for would pay in. Workers would be allowed to roll over these days from year to year.” [Campaign website]

Buttigieg Will Protect Undocumented Workers From Retaliation When Reporting Labor Violations And Ensure Visa Portability. “Employers should not be able to retaliate against any worker who wants the minimum wage enforced, supports union organizing, or seeks other protections under labor and employment laws. Making those protections clear and providing full remedies for undocumented workers is important–both to protect those workers from threats like being reported to ICE and also to avoid creating downward pressure on everyone’s work conditions and pay. Pete would also support legislation that would provide visas for victims of labor and employment law violations who are helpful in prosecuting those violations–just as we do for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking crimes. […] Pete will propose reforms to temporary work visas so that workers can move to another employer in their industry and keep their visa. Pete would also support legislation that would provide greater transparency for temporary work visa programs.” [Campaign website]

Buttigieg Would Restore The Obama Overtime Regulations That Would Protect 8 Million More Workers. “President Trump has rolled back the new overtime regulations from the Obama Administration, replacing them with ones that protect millions fewer workers–workers who are no longer guaranteed “time-and-a-half” pay when they work more hours for their employer. Pete would restore the Obama-era overtime regulations to ensure workers are protected and would pass legislation to strengthen overtime rules moving forward by ensuring that, in the absence of a collective bargaining agreement, overtime kicks in after 8 hours per day (in addition to over 40 hours per week) or over 7 days in a row.” [Campaign website]

Buttigieg Would Ensure That Workers Have Access To Predictable Schedules, Or Ensure Their Adequate Compensation If The Nature Of Their Work Prevents It. “Workers should know that they are going to get the predictable hours they need so that they can plan their lives and pay their monthly bills. Employers should not be able to require workers to be on call, or to demand that workers be at the workplace with little notice, unless they compensate those workers accordingly. The Schedules That Work Act, which Pete strongly supports, would ensure that workers have access to predictable schedules, or receive compensation for their irregular schedule.” [Campaign website]

Buttigieg Would Endorse The Domestic Workers Bill Of Rights. “Today, domestic workers are excluded from basic employment and labor protections, which leaves workers who are disproportionately women, and particularly women of color, open to exploitation.50 That’s why Pete endorses the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act which provides domestic workers access to the same employment rights as other workers–from overtime pay to antidiscrimination–and creates standards like harassment protections and fair scheduling to address the unique nature of their working conditions.” [Campaign website]


NBC News Headline: “New Buttigieg Plan Aims To Expand And Strengthen Unions.” “Mayor Pete Buttigieg unveiled his latest presidential campaign policy proposal Friday, an economic plan focused on strengthening and expanding unions and workers’ rights. […] The 13-page plan hopes to tackle the gender wage gap through greater pay transparency, banning employers from using an employee’s salary history to determine wages, and passing anti-harassment and gender nondiscrimination laws.” [NBC News, 7/26/19]

CNBC Headline: “Pete Buttigieg Unveils Plan To Protect Gig Economy Workers And Boost Unionization.” “Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg unveiled proposals on Friday to boost union membership and protect workers in the so-called gig economy. […] More than 15 million workers — including 10 million independent contractors, 1.4 million temp workers and 1 million contract firm workers — will have expanded rights and protections, according to the campaign.” [CNBC, 7/26/19]

Reuters Headline: “Democrat Buttigieg Unveils Plan To Raise Pay, Expand Worker Protections.” “Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg unveiled a plan on Friday to raise wages and strengthen the rights of American workers, including “gig economy” workers such as Uber drivers, and fast-food employees.” [Reuters, 7/26/19]

Indystar Headline: “Pete Buttigieg Would Let Gig-Economy Workers Unionize, Set $15 Minimum Wage.” “Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg introduced an economic policy proposal Friday that aims to expand employee protections and rights, including safeguards for gig-economy workers as part of a bid to double union membership nationwide. The proposal would also raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour – a proposal the U.S. House just passed and one that several of his Democratic rivals have advocated for — end “right to work” laws in Indiana and other states, implement what he calls gender pay transparency and broaden federal protections to include farm and domestic workers.” [Indianapolis Star, 7/26/19]

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