This Labor Day, Americans Deserve a Raise and Fair Trade

September 4, 2015
American workers are the best in the world. They teach our children, care for our sick and elderly, build our communities and much more. This Labor Day, we must recognize the tireless devotion of our working men and women - and stand up for them.

Throughout this year, I have been impressed and inspired by hard working Americans who are fighting for their rights. I have joined marches and protests with workers in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. - and the fight continues.

American workers deserve a raise. I fully support the push for $15 an hour and a union. We also must raise wages for low and middle income families. In fact, organized labor built the middle class and to rebuild it we must grow support for workers and their unions. Our workers deserve no less, especially because while economic productivity has soared by nearly 65 percent in the last 35 years in our country, hourly wages have only grown by 8 percent. We can afford to pay workers fairly and it is the right thing to do. We also need equal pay for equal work. Today, women, on average, still earn only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. It is even less for women of color - for African-American women it's 64 cents and for Latinas it's 55 cents. This is unacceptable.

In addition, over the past 20 years hard working Americans have been faced with unfair trade agreements that have led to depressed wages and job losses here at home. Good paying American jobs have been shipped to countries that have deplorable working conditions, allow human trafficking to thrive, and manipulate their currency to keep the costs of their products artificially low. I will keep fighting against trade agreements that treat American workers unfairly, resulting in lost jobs and depressed wages.

And lastly, despite those in government who operate in a framework of scarcity, the United States is the richest country on the face of the earth - and we've never been richer. Yet so many families are struggling to get by because we have massive inequality in our country. The richest .1 percent of Americans has as much wealth as the least affluent 90 percent of us. I join with all who are committed to shifting the dangerous trend of high inequality and stagnant wages.

Higher wages for American workers are not just good for American families, they are good for our economy. I will keep fighting for a raise for hard working Americans, so our families can afford housing, help their children get a quality education and secure a good retirement.

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