Ellison's Steps to Income Equality: More Powerful Unions and Weaker Trade
Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairman Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said that increasing the power of unions is key to addressing income inequality in America.
"We need a comprehensive plan, but let's start with increasing the right to collective bargaining," Ellison said on MSNBC. "We've got to get workers on the job in a position to demand that the wealth that they create be shared by the company. That's a key thing. If you look at how wages has stagnated in the United States and you look at how union did something that has gone down, the lines track right together. You got to get power in the hands of the workers. That's key."
He also encouraged more spending, saying investment is needed as "America's infrastructure is crumbling."
Then comes challenging "philosophy."
"Because if you listen to my Republican colleagues, what they'll tell you is that we can't possibly ask the corporate rich community to abide by a regulation, to health and safety regulations, or pay their parent shared taxes, because if we do, it will hurt jobs. Of course, the opposite is true," Ellison said.
"If we increase the minimum wage, if we increase wages generally and create a high wage economy, we will see everyone, even rich people, make more money. But, they've got the scarcity-based thing and we've got to change it."
Ellison said the federal government needs to lead by example by raising those employees' wages first.
"Right now, the federal government -- highest federal contractors who have more low wage workers than Walmart or McDonald's combined. The federal government should lead the way. It shouldn't lead the way on the race to the bottom. It should set the labor conditions of a fair wage economy."
And finally, the congressman said trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership should be opposed.
"All we're really doing is taking advantage of those bottom billion who are getting by on nothing. We're taking advantage of fact that they have no money and very -- living on less than a dollar a day. When we go do trade with a country like Vietnam, and without demanding that they increase their labor standards, we're just creating -- exacerbating that issue of rural inequality."
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