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With a Stroke of a Pen, the Next President Could Give a Huge Boost to Union Organizing


The first platform committee meeting for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, featuring representatives from both campaigns as well as DNC neutrals, took place on Wednesday. Their deliberations will likely feature tough negotiations on a range of issues — a $15 minimum wage, fracking, the legitimacy of giant banks — that were points of contention during the campaigning, helping clarify the political and ideological shift that has taken place in the party since the mid-1990s when Robert Rubin was its intellectual lodestar.

One proposal that fits the stated agendas of both candidates is the call for a "model employer" executive order — a move the next president (or, indeed, the current one) could take to promote the kind of higher-wage, union-friendly economy that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders say they want.

The model employer executive order, explained

The union-funded organization Good Jobs Nation developed the proposal, which has two key planks:

  1. Preference in federal contracts and some subsidies to "model employers" who pay at least $15 per hour and meet a standard package of benefits, including health insurance and sick leave, and provide stable, full-time hours.
  2. Contractors would have to affirm, rather than impede, the right of their employees to unionize in return for a no-strike or "labor peace" pledge by the employees.

The liberal think tank Demos calculated in 2013 that there are at least 2 million low-wage workers earning less than $12 an hour who work for companies that benefit from federal contracts.