WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), today reintroduced ambitious legislation to create a three-year pilot program at the Department of Labor to test the promise and impact of a federal jobs guarantee in up to 15 communities and regions experiencing high unemployment. The Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act would guarantee that adults in participating communities who want to work can do so, in a job that pays a living wage and provides benefits like health insurance, paid sick leave, and paid family leave. When it was originally introduced in 2018, this was the first federal jobs guarantee legislation ever to be introduced in Congress.
“Both Martin Luther King, Jr., and President Franklin Roosevelt believed that every American had the right to a job, and that government would see to it that every person who wants to work would be able to. This legislation is an attempt to fulfill that ambitious vision. A federal jobs guarantee is a major investment in our country’s most valuable asset – our workers – by getting them off the sidelines and into the labor force with a living wage and meaningful benefits, like paid sick leave and safe working conditions. Addressing the entrenched structural hurdles that hinder workers’ success by offering bold solutions is how we strengthen the working class, grow the economy, and broaden prosperity and dignity for workers in this country,” Senator Booker said.
“We have roads and bridges in disrepair, families that can’t find childcare, aging and toxic water infrastructure, and communities paying more for their energy costs than is necessary which means there are plenty of jobs available and unfilled. This is not the result of a lack of people willing to do the work, it’s a gap created because localities cannot afford to pay them. The Federal Jobs Guarantee Act creates a pilot program for the communities who need it most, giving good paying jobs to people who have suffered while both wages and opportunities have dwindled. The work they’ll do will make tangible improvements in those same communities and reverberate through the national economy,” Rep. Watson Coleman said.
“In a 21st century America, the ability to find stable work should be a human right. This is not a Democratic or Republican idea—it is an idea that is overwhelmingly popular with the American people. Over a decade after the Great Recession, communities across the country are still suffering from low wages, inconsistent work, and a tax code that prioritizes the needs of the wealthy over working people. If we are going to build an economy that works for everybody, we as a nation have a responsibility to make sure everyone who wants work can find it. In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called on our government to ‘guarantee a job to all people who want to work and are able to work.’ I am proud to join Senator Booker and Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman to make the vision of Dr. King’s vision a reality,” Rep. Omar said.
The Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act would:
· Select up to 15 communities across the country facing high unemployment based on local need and assets, ensuring that work would advance critical local and national priorities like child and elder care, infrastructure, and community revitalization.
· Guarantee that every interested adult with residence in a pilot community may participate in the program to obtain a guaranteed job.
o Jobs will include a prevailing wage, paid family and sick leave, and comprehensive health coverage like that enjoyed by Members of Congress.
· Require that each pilot community creates a “Community Job Bank” website, which will feature high-impact jobs sourced primarily by local communities, as well as Federal agencies, based on their needs and priorities.
· Expand the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to incentivize private employers to recruit and hire participants out of the pilot program.
· Authorize a rigorous evaluation of the program’s implementation and impact across a number of metrics, including unemployment rates, private sector wages, safety net spending, and incarceration rates.
o Workers participating in the program will maintain their job for the full three years of the pilot program.
Background on Booker’s work in the Senate fighting for economic justice:
Booker has been a leading voice in the senate for economic justice, introducing bold proposals to combat wealth inequality and increasing corporate concentration. He is the author of “baby bonds” legislation, which would address the wealth gap by creating a seed savings account for every American child when they are born. He also authored legislation that would provide low-income renters a tax credit to help them pay rent.
Last year, he introduced the Worker Dividend Act, targeting the increasing trend of corporations using profits for stock buybacks instead of using them to raise wages for workers. In 2017, he introduced a bill targeting companies that outsource much of their labor costs to contractors and temp workers rather than hiring direct employees.
Booker has also been a vocal advocate for cracking down on monopolistic corporate practices that hurt consumers and workers. He was one of the first lawmakers to press antitrust regulators on corporate concentration and the increasing trend of "monopsony" power, which limits worker mobility and depresses wages, and earlier this year he reintroduced a bill to place an immediate and indefinite moratorium on acquisitions and mergers in the food and agriculture sector.
Booker is also the author of legislation to crack down on collusive "no poaching" clauses that are often used by large franchisors to prohibit franchisees from hiring each other’s workers (the End Employer Collusion Act). In large part due to the proposed legislation leading to increased awareness around the issue, several fast-food chains have announced plans to end such clauses.