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Economic Justice and Workers' Rights

Economic justice starts with a commitment to worker power, workplace safety, and livable wages. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, standing up for labor rights has life and death consequences.  Boston’s economy and our economic recovery should be built on good, green jobs, made truly accessible when we tackle the struggles facing working families, from lack of affordable child care options to housing insecurity. Michelle is focused on confronting wealth inequality and building economic prosperity through a commitment to labor rights.

Policy PrioritiesHow We Will Lead

Building worker power

Workers must have real negotiating power as we rebuild our city’s economy and shape our collective future. Boston must proactively affirm the right of all workers to organize and bargain collectively for their rights, including by aggressively enforcing existing procurement standards that give preference to union vendors. At the same time, we must also support the creation of worker-owned cooperatives that build wealth and power in underserved communities.

Establishing a Cabinet-Level Chief of Worker Empowerment

To ensure a just and equitable recovery from COVID-19, our commitment to working Bostonians must go beyond paying lip service to essential workers, to include structural changes at the City level to close gaps, elevate the dignity of work, and advance the well-being of all Boston workers and their communities. As Mayor, Michelle will create a Cabinet-level Chief of Worker Empowerment with oversight and resources to advance working Bostonians in both the private and public sectors.

Protecting essential workers during COVID-19

The pandemic has provided us with the opportunity to recognize the dignity of all workers, including essential workers who risk their lives on a daily basis to keep our city running. Boston must protect the physical health of workers during COVID-19 by modernizing our buildings’ ventilation systems and guaranteeing access to personal protective equipment (PPE) for all workers. We must also prevent retaliation against workers who report unsafe working conditions that heighten the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Fighting for livable wages and benefits

Boston must ensure that all workers earn a living wage and adequate paid family and medical leave to provide for themselves and their families. That includes undocumented workers, who are an essential part of our city’s economy, but are too often denied these same tenets of worker justice and confronted with employer retaliation. The pandemic has revealed the inadequacy of paltry sick leave policies that force workers to choose between their health and their paycheck. Whether dealing with COVID-19, a broken bone, or elder care responsibilities, we must ensure that all workers have the freedom to take care of their loved ones without losing a paycheck.

Tackling wage theft

Wage theft undermines the security and well-being of Boston workers, especially from low-income and immigrant communities, the service sector, and other workers, taking advantage of those who haven’t been informed of their rights or lack the legal or financial resources to defend them. By prohibiting vendors with past workplace safety or wage theft violations from doing business with the City, Boston can send a clear signal to all businesses that they must uphold and enforce labor laws and workplace protections.

Guaranteeing a Fair Work Week

Boston’s service sector workers—including the essential workers that we have depended on throughout the pandemic—experience routine schedule instability and unpredictability. These unpredictable schedules create hardship and stress for workers and their families, who are more likely to experience hunger, poor sleep quality, and higher levels of stress. All employers doing business in the City of Boston must provide their workers with schedules that are predictable and flexible, with enough hours for families to make ends meet, and enough leisure time to participate in family and community life.

Combating wealth inequality and creating corporate and institutional accountability

Boston’s approach to economic development must benefit all residents. Instead of giving tax breaks to bad actors, we should support companies that hire locally and provide full-time jobs with livable wages and good benefits. Companies should publicly report the number and type of jobs created so that Boston residents and city government can hold accountable these private corporations and larger institutions that receive public benefits and services.

Ensuring equitable access to public goods like transportation and education

Our city’s transit system is powered by and for essential workers, and the pandemic has underscored the need for workers to be able to move safely and affordably around the city – now, and in the future. Meanwhile, inequities in the Boston Public School system continue to perpetuate racial and socioeconomic disparities across the city, while teachers, administrators, and other school staff are facing the challenges of a safe reopening and equitable recovery for K-12 schools. We must invest in the transportation and education systems that workers depend on to build resilience during and after the pandemic.

Championing economic empowerment for all Bostonians

Fighting for worker dignity means confronting and dismantling the ways that people of color, women, immigrants, undocumented people, disabled people, and LGBTQ individuals often face additional barriers to employment and unequal payment and treatment at work. A commitment to economic empowerment means safeguarding wages and rights in the workplace, but our local government should also align spending and priorities to uproot the causes of wealth inequality and close the racial wealth gap. To build a strong and just city, we must also invest in youth employment opportunities, affordable child care, and support for small businesses, building on a robust network of community organizations and partnerships.

Implementing Boston’s Green New Deal (GND)

Michelle has proposed a groundbreaking plan to implement the GND at the municipal level, which includes creating green jobs with livable wages, good benefits, and strong worker protections to build a clean, just economy. By partnering with organized labor, workers centers, and technical schools and educators, Boston can ensure that these workforce development pathways are accessible for residents of all backgrounds.

Michelle's RecordWhat We've Done Together So Far