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There were many ways in which America could have been better prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic. As of today the U.S has 40 million people unemployed because of the lockdown caused by the outbreak. Many people facing food scarcity, eviction, job loss, and many more hardships from before and during COVID, but it didn’t have to be this way. This isn’t the time for pointing fingers and political theatre.

That is why we have an in depth plan to restructure the economy with protections in case of a future crisis hitting key areas such as job security, direct cash payments, housing security, healthcare, racial disparities, and education.

Our plan:

Labor/Worker Rights 

Establish a workers Bill of Rights:

 Workplaces should be free of discrimination.

Protections for collective bargaining agreements.

Truly universal paid sick leave and family and medical leave.

Protections for whistleblowers.

 Support for child care.

Hold corporations accountable for meeting their responsibilities.

 Employees should be able to leave a job with dignity.

Every workplace should be as safe as possible.

Employees should be able to stand up for their rights not enumerated above.

Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act:

This bill came under much scrutiny when it was first proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as “anti-business”, but I recognize just how necessary it is. After the financial crisis of 2008, many industries consolidated, through strategic mergers, which gave way to monopolistic mega-corporations. If we allow predatory mergers to occur big corporations are going to swallow up struggling small businesses impacted by the pandemic lockdown. According to NY Times U.S public health officials were aware of the shortage of resources, specifically ventilators, more than a decade ago and came up with a plan to fix this. However, through predatory acquisition, a multibillion dollar company bought up several of the small companies tasked with developing new machines. In turn, this new mega-corporation did not produce the new machines as intended for in the plan. When there is less competition, monopolies tend to increase prices while providing inferior services. Here is a clear example of how that can result in devastating consequences.

It is reported that forty percent of small businesses fail to reopen after economic disasters. If this is the case we will see only more and more consolidation of corporate power. The protections put in place and financial aid for small businesses (passed to stimulate the economy) were largely exploited by big companies and there was little to no oversight. We are witnessing the hollowing out of our economy and a massive upward transfer of wealth if we do not use the federal government’s power to protect small businesses from corporate consolidation and monopolization.  

Passing the Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act is a great first step in protecting small businesses from the devastating economic impact of COVID-19. However, it must be only a start. If we are to transition our economy to focus on working class people, not mega corporations, we must ensure that no monopoly is allowed to exist. 

Here’s how:

  • Permanently prohibit mergers of companies with $100 million in revenue or $100 million in market capitalization
  • Institute price caps
  • Limit percentage of market share legally allowed before initiating anti-trust regulation
  • Use regulatory power to ensure quality of service 

Minimum Wage Increase:

Support the Raise The Wage Act.

  • Increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour
  • Gives 33 million Americans an average annual pay increase of about $2,760
  • Tipped workers will be guaranteed at least the federal minimum wage
  • Ensure minimum wage for workers with disabilities 

Labor Unions:

Repealing the Taft-Hartley Act 

This would allow for the expansion of unions and union activity

Supporting the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) 

Further protect workers rights to organize

Support Sectoral Collective Bargaining 

Would allow for the federal application of strong collective bargaining agreements to the entire sector/industry

Works Council:

In order to give working people the voice they deserve, we must create a system that allows for the establishment of a firm based works council. 

A works council is a floor level organization that gives workers direct representation within their own workplace. These organizations work in tandem with larger trade unions to provide worker representation on two levels. Instead of workers being represented only by larger (through our policy) sectoral collective bargaining agreements and trade unions, localized works councils provide another level of workers advocacy within each company/workplace. 

While trade unions help facilitate set wage levels and benefit packages, works councils will provide a localized framework for employees to work with management, exchange workplace information, and allow for firm-specific implementation of sectoral collective bargaining agreements.  

Amendments to Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA): 

Large companies with over 500 employees must comply with ERISA 

A restructuring of employee benefit packages as employers begin to transition out of providing Healthcare. Rework our trade deals so that they benefit laborers, not big corporations sucking up the profits. Establishing a more democratic workplace through the use of worker co-ops within companies so that they can elect a percentage of the board members as well as selecting the Union delegate and appointing a small coalition of workers who have a collective vote. Protections to whistleblowers who call out their business for unsafe or unethical practices. We must encourage accountability at all levels to ensure predatory actions are curbed. Corporations should also be held accountable for their use of taxpayer dollars, that money should not be going to executives and shareholders but to payroll retention. Workers and taxpayers should both have a say in how the funds are to be distributed. A federal mandatory paid sick leave of two weeks as well as paid vacation of two weeks. Federal family leave of 52 weeks with 39 of those weeks being partially paid and 12 being fully paid. 

Worker Compensation:

All workers deemed essential throughout this crisis would get either $10,000 or $5,000 in hazard pay. This money would serve as back pay from January 27, 2020, with essential workers receiving a lump-sum payment at the start of the program for all hours worked back to January. After this, hazard pay would be included with regular payroll/paychecks and would be distributed as a $13 an hour pay raise or bonus of sorts that essential workers would continue to receive in their checks until they reach their $10,000 or $5,000 limit or until 60 days after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, whichever comes first. Employers are liable for the health and safety of workers who contract Covid-19 thus they will be eligible for workers compensation paid for by the employer. These added benefits would not interfere with any eligibility for means tested social programs. 

Ties into: Payments to those whose jobs were displaced from COVID on top of unemployment benefits which transitions into below

Universal Basic Income:

Phase out from hazard pay/unemployment boost and transition into $2,000 per month UBI given to every American in perpetuity. Adjustment to be made to tax on wealthy who don’t need an infusion of money. Money is not tied to anything, pure dollars to be used as seen fit by the recipient, not the giver. Allows for the money to be more freely cycled back into the economy and also for lower income families to have money to spend with no strings attached. 

Housing

National Rent Control and a competitive federal affordable housing plan will lower the price of the private housing sector. The Homes for All Act repeals the Faircloth amendment, allowing the federal government to begin reinvesting in new public housing for the first time since the 1990s. The bill will make a historic investment of $800 billion over the course of 10 years with the goal of building 8.5 million new units of public housing. The bill will also invest an additional $200 billion in the Housing Trust Fund to help local communities build 3.5 million new private, permanent affordable housing projects for low and extremely-low income families. 

Importantly, the bill makes public housing operating and capital expenses mandatory spending in order to prevent future investment bias. Making this spending mandatory ensures that the funding needs of all current and future public housing are fully met and cannot be cut in the event of a budget crisis or a change in Administration. This simple change in budgetary structure makes a homes guarantee real – ensuring the federal government is committed to this program the same way it is to Social Security and Medicare. Doing this not only expands options for public housing, but also acts as a preventative measure to avoid private equity firms from hoarding real estate and increasing prices.

Healthcare

Transition to the Medicare for All system of single payer healthcare. Adding to it free COVID-19 testing and treatment. Automatic enrollment for the already unemployed/uninsured. Medical debt cancelation. The elimination of drug price gouging and opening up the market to cheaper generic medicines that come from overseas. Initial response to COVID outbreak turns into a guarantee of medical coverage for all. Too many Americans today avoid medical attention due to the daunting costs and fear of taking on debt. With a transition into medicare for all, our coverage of those affected most by the pandemic will then encompass the whole of the nation, ensuring every American can access medicine and procedures that they need.

Economic Racial Justice/Anti Blackness

Reparations:

Pass H.R 40. Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act

The Fresh Start Act:

There is no dollar amount that can atone for centuries of brutality and torture faced by Black people at the hands of white supremacy spearheaded by the U.S. Which is why a dollar equivalent of 40 acres and a mule a conservative estimate of approx. ($6 trillion) is owed as backpay for the wealth generated by Black people under the system of slavery which continues to drive the capitalism we have today that Black people continue to be shut out from partaking in.

Passing an $820 billion dollar direct cash stimulus of $20 thousand dollar to every Black american in the country. The new cash injection to the black community will serve as liquidity for the community where they themselves can decide where to direct those funds.

Increased funding to HBCU scholarship and grant programs, open enrollment, more resources, better opportunities at schools. 

Nationwide student debt cancelation starting from low income Black borrowers disproportionately affected by the predatory system and expanding to all students.

Federal jobs program that provides economic opportunities within the  neighborhoods that have been largely shut out of our economy and training programs to enable entrepreneurial development for Black people in the tech sector as well as the skills for necessary employment outside the community. 

Black people are disproportionately affected by the brutality of our healthcare system which is why everyone needs to be covered with the passing of M4All and being sick should not mean one should be shackled to debt so we will cancel medical debt starting with Black Americans many whom have felt the full force of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Criminal Justice Reform: The Next Step Act:

Demilitarization of the police. End Federal funding and the sending of military weaponry to police forces.

Removal of no knock raids.

The development of Neighborhood Watch/Community Policing organizations comprised of the demographic of the people in the community.

Federally banning the death penalty. 

Federally banning solitary confinement. 

Federally banning the for-profit prison system.

Allow judges to exercise the use of empathy/fair judgment by removing mandatory minimums. 

A reduction of the prison recidivism rate by redirecting funds to rehabilitation programs and at home confinement.

With the ending of the drug war, removal of petty policing tactics, and the development of a nationwide technological update to our judicial system we can allow the tens of thousands to millions of people who sit waiting in holding cells their right to a speedy trial. 

Developing a Black National Task Force with nationwide local chapters filled with members from a variety of occupational backgrounds within the professional Black upper/middle class and working/lower class that act as a review board overlooking, but not limited to; police shootings, complaints, hate crimes, housing discrimination, evictions, school suspensions/expulsions, predatory loans, hiring discrimination, promotional discrimination, civil asset forfeiture cases, bail review, judge “kickbacks”, and plea bargaining agreements. The money and fines accrued by violations, sanctions, or lawsuits shall be redistributed to black communities focusing on education, job training, housing, and will be subject to frequent audits. 

Rights Restoration Act:

A removal of our current prisoner caste system by restoring all voting rights previously taken away by felony incarceration and the development and funding of society reintegration programs for the formerly incarcerated.

Decriminalization of Poverty Task Force:

A panel of, but not limited to, progressive thinking Black historians, legal experts, sociologists, social workers, teachers, and economists focus on the causes of crimes of poverty rather than the crimes themselves, especially wage theft and corrupt landlords. Any seized property or money acquired through legal processes by the government shall be reinvested into the community, focusing on education, housing, and jobs which is shown to reduce crime. This will also prevent seizures being incentivized by counting towards the department budget, and instead will use those funds to improve the conditions of the community. 

Cannabis

The prohibition of cannabis is declared over. Providing legal and recreational use for all people aged 21 and over. All non violent drug offenders will go through preparations for release. Optional rehabilitation services will be provided if needed. Grants and incentives will be provided by the state and federal government to encourage cannabis sector jobs to the black and brown communities who have been disproportionately affected by the racist War on Drugs. The tax revenue generated will be cycled back into the community, funding public education with an emphasis on, but not limited to, programs that teach the importance of voting, organizing, and financial literacy. A federal removal of the Schedule 1 Drug Classification guaranteeing that banking services will be opened up to the cannabis sector. We will issue federal loans through the use of a public bank within the community and establish connections and encourage the development of more black owned banks. For too long black and brown people have been shut out of our economy or have had the rug pulled from beneath them. Cannabis sector jobs will be enacted in phases. 

Phase one will focus on expanding small farming operations and cultivation. 

Phase two will increase/expand on dispensaries both medical and recreational for the buying and selling of cannabis products. 

Phase three will begin the introduction of, but not limited to BYOW smoking lounges, cannabis “bars” and restaurants with both THC and CBD infused products,

Climate Justice

The Green New Deal will take years to pass and be put into action. We need to help those that have been marginalized by climate injustice now. We will introduce sweeping energy resiliency legislation in order to protect communities that are exploited by greedy energy companies, and energy independence legislation that puts control of electricity in the hands of communities. Control of electricity should not be in the hands of corporations. It should be in the hands of the people. Additionally, communities that have been marginalized through climate injustice will be the first beneficiaries of jobs in the renewable energy sector. Additionally, grants will be directed towards communities that have been left behind in climate reform, allowing for sea walls/renovations to homes in at risk areas. Protection from insurance companies jacking up prices as the risk for flooding/super storms increases.

Jobs

Levy heavy income/capital gains tax (35-50%) on execs who move jobs out of the US. An increase of corporate taxes on the executives would present them with an ultimatum: cut profits and move jobs to the US or be taxed an additional income/capital gains tax. Avoid major price increases on goods by setting domestic price ceilings. Those who try to move jobs out of the US as a loophole can be cut off from the American market, which alienates one of the biggest consumer bases in the world for those who do not wish to comply. Prevention of moving labor overseas to exploit cheap labor will bring millions of jobs back to the American market. Combined with strengthened labor unions that have more bargaining power, this will not only bring jobs, but ensure the quality and security of them.