By HENRY GARRIDO
Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO
We believe Hillary Clinton — a longtime friend of this union and the labor movement — is the best choice for workers in this year’s presidential election.
Arguably the most prepared presidential candidate in modern times, she would bring a long history of supporting working family issues to the White House.
She has devoted her career to public service, and we can count on her to stand up to the deep-pocketed interests that want to destroy unions, take away worker rights and privatize government services.
As a U.S. senator from our state, Clinton played an important role in securing health-care funding for first responders and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
“When I’m president, working people will always have a seat at the table and a champion in the White House,” Clinton told us at this summer’s convention of our national union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Clinton’s opponent, real estate mogul and billionaire Donald J. Trump, claims to be the workers’ candidate. That’s absurd.
In reality, Trump offers nothing in terms of policy to back up his claim that jobs would be a major priority under his administration. He brings a history of anti-unionism and ripping off his own contractors and workers.
In contrast to Trump, Clinton has mapped out very progressive policy positions aimed at helping ordinary Americans struggling to get by in an out-of-balance economy that favors the 1 percent.
Clinton pledges to ease the tax burden on middle-class families while raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and closing tax loopholes. This would continue the Obama administration’s policy of making the wealthy pay their fair share
Clinton wants to make college loans more affordable, taking financial pressure off of graduates, whose career choices are too often influenced by their debt burden. In 2014, the average student loan debt was $33,607 compared with the typical household credit card debt of $15,191.
Under Clinton’s plan, students from families with household incomes up to $125,000 would not have to pay tuition at four-year public colleges and universities. Borrowers would be able to refinance their loans at a lower rate.
A defender of worker rights
Clinton wants to increase the $7.25 per hour federal minimum wage to $12 an hour. She supports the Fight for 15 movement and the local and state efforts to raise the rate to $15 an hour.
Her $275 billion plan to rebuild our infrastructure — which calls for repairing roads and bridges, building airports and expanding internet access — would be the biggest public works initiative since the New Deal. Additional Clinton proposals include increasing manufacturing jobs, investing in clean energy, guaranteeing paid family leave and lowering child-care costs.
Strongly opposed to the privatization of Social Security, Clinton wants to expand the popular program. She would lift the cap on the Social Security tax to require the wealthy to contribute more. And she is against raising the retirement age.
On labor issues, she pledges to restore collective bargaining rights for unions and to defend workers’ rights from attacks. She rejects trade agreements that don’t uphold worker rights and fair exchange.
Speaking about unions, Clinton said, “I’ve always believed that when unions are strong,”
families are strong and America is strong.”
Clinton stands with us. A vote for her on Nov. 8 will be a vote for economic fairness, retirement security and a bright future for our children.
This originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Public Employee Press.