In 2013, America woke up to the concerns of workers across the country who struggle to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. Now it is time for Congress to do the same and pass legislation that puts regular people above the corporate class that has benefitted from Capitol Hill’s largess.
From New York to Los Angeles and everywhere in between, thousands of workers raised the issue of income inequality last year and people began to listen. Whether it was Teamster-backed port truck drivers or those working in warehouses, retail or fast-food restaurants, low-wage workers engaged in walkouts and demanded respect from employers through the right to organize and higher salaries.
Lawmakers, however, failed their constituents when it came to lending them support. Whether it was letting long-term unemployment benefits lapse or cutting food stamp benefits, Congress has been quick to bring out the axe against rank-and-file workers. Meanwhile, the U.S. is fourth in the world when it comes to wealth inequality.
The Senate will attempt to right some of those wrongs Monday when it takes up renewing jobless benefits for 1.3 million U.S. residents who lost them when they expired late last year. But it is time for elected officials to stop being reactionary in their tactics. In short, it is time to go on the offensive.
The U.S. needs to re-energize itself when it comes to social mobility. For generations, this country was known as the “Land of Opportunity.” It needs to regain that moniker. To do so, Capitol Hill needs to invest in this nation and help get hard-working Americans back on their feet so they can make America the shining economic star it once was again.
As we arrive at the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” Congress must challenge itself to steady the working class. America not only needs quality jobs, it needs a support structure that allows families to have a good life balance. Besides better pay, that means access to paid sick leave and quality child care.
Polling shows that the public overwhelmingly support these moves. They want a higher minimum wage and sustained benefits for the unemployed and working poor. It’s time for the politicians to get onboard. Words are nice, but it’s time for action. They’ve seen the protests across towns and cities in the U.S.
The people are speaking. It’s time to boldly move forward.