I firmly believe that America has the hardest working, most talented, and best educated workforce in the world. Our country has been successful because of our excellent workforce, and it will continue to thrive as a result. This is also why I am confident that, moving forward, we will maintain the highest standard of living in the world. Throughout my career, I have consistently fought to safeguard critical worker rights to protect our strong workforce.
The ability to organize and collectively bargain for benefits was one of the most important advances in American labor law and has been a major contributor to our historically robust middle class. As the son of a union baggage handler at SeaTac airport, I understand how important labor unions are in the lives of American workers and their families. I have consistently supported workers’ rights during my time in Congress, and will continue to support legislation that protects living wage jobs, lowers health care costs, and ensures that Americans have a safety net to make a better life for themselves and their families.
- Support for Individuals Receiving Education and Workforce Training. For too many people, the barriers to receiving an education or obtaining the skills needed to succeed in this economy are insurmountable. Reducing the barriers that individuals face to obtain training and education will help ready our workforce for in-demand, good paying jobs. This is why I have introduced the Empowering Individuals to Succeed Through Education and Workforce Training Act, legislation that would establish a new grant program under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), dedicated exclusively to providing support services for people receiving workforce training and education.
- Fighting to close the gender wage gap. Despite many transformative changes in our economy, American women still earn less than their male counterparts. I am a co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would limit differences in pay to factors of education, training or experience. The bill also requires collection of data to ensure that the gender wage gap is erased with punitive damages possible for any future discrimination.
- It’s time to give working Americans a raise, which is why I support the Raise the Wage Act. Over the years, American wages have stagnated while worker productivity has gone up. This is fundamentally unfair. This legislation would raise the minimum wage to $15/hour nationally, a $7.75 increase over the current rate, which has gone untouched since 2009.
- We must prepare our young people for the economy of today, and tomorrow. Recognizing that many job opportunities are in the STEM fields, I support legislation that provides relevant STEM education opportunities to high school students. The Youth Access to American Jobs Act encourages students to enroll in a course of study related to the manufacturing field at their community college, or enroll, for a two-year period, in their state’s apprenticeship program after graduating from secondary school. Students are also encouraged to enroll in the joint-labor management training program upon receiving an associate's degree from their community college. We must provide our students with an education that actually prepares them for a career.
- Support our working families with paid parental leave. I recognize the difficulties that many Americans face when balancing their career and family life. I have been a strong supporter of the Paid Parental Leave Act, which allows federal employees to substitute any available paid leave for any leave without pay available for the birth of a child, or placement of a child with the employee for either adoption or foster care. This bill directs the Office of Personnel Management to increase the amount of paid parental leave available to a total of 12 administrative workweeks. I am also a cosponsor of the FAMILY Act, which would create a national paid family and medical leave program.
I understand and strongly empathize with the financial challenges that many Americans face. I am working hard in Congress to support policies that will help to get our economy back on track and create good-paying jobs here in America. I take the need for economic stability and jobs creation very seriously. I support policies to create broad-based opportunities for all, grow our economy, keep our country strong and forward-looking, and make government work better for everyone.
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More on America's Workers
|8/3/12||Smith Statement on Passage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the Dominican Republic - Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR)|
|7/26/12||Smith Receives Corporate Voices for Working Families and Working Mother Media Best of Congress Award|
|3/12/12||Smith Statement on WTO Appellate Body Report|
|2/28/12||Smith Statement on the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center|
|1/25/12||Smith Statement on the President's State of the Union Address|
|9/13/11||Statement on funding extension for FAA and Surface Transportation Programs|
|9/8/11||Smith statement on President Obama’s Jobs Speech|