Labor Issues

Labor Issues

This post is the ninth of a twelve-part series to publicize candidate answers to our Electoral Questionnaire. Candidates were required to answer all questions to be eligible for Boston DSA’s endorsement.

Boston DSA will vote on endorsements at the July 21st General Meeting.

This section asks candidates about just-cause employment, support for union workers, NLRB elections, undocumented workers, wage theft, wages for tipped workers, worker cooperatives, job guarantees, the Fair Share and Raise Up agendas, and the candidate’s own campaign staff.

Would you support a Massachusetts law that would establish a just-cause employment standard (meaning that Massachusetts would no longer be an “at-will” employment state)? If yes, would you sponsor and campaign for such a law?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes, and yes.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes and yes.

Segun Idowu

  • Yes and yes.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes, I would both sponsor and campaign for such a law.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes, I would support a law establishing a just-cause employment standard in addition to sponsorship.

Darrin Howell

  • Yes and yes.

Would you support a Massachusetts law that would allow striking workers to access unemployment insurance benefits during a union-initiated strike? (Current state law permits this only in the case of employer-initiated lockouts). If yes, would you sponsor and campaign for such a law?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes, and yes.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes, and yes.

Segun Idowu

  • Yes, and yes.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes. This should have been passed in 2009 under the Employee Free Choice Act, and it was a squandered opportunity on the part of national Democrats to put this important protection in place.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes, enabling workers to take firm stances should never threaten their or their family’s economic survival.

Darrin Howell

  • Yes and yes.

Would you support a Massachusetts law requiring all employers who receive state funding to recognize a union formed by their workers through the card-check process (as opposed to an NLRB-administered election)? If yes, would you sponsor and campaign for such a law?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes, and yes.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes, and yes.

Segun Idowu

  • Yes, and yes.

Nika Elugardo

  • I will support efforts to pass higher wages and worker protections across the board for all workers. But I will also support efforts to unionize workplaces for workers regardless of immigration status. I will support legislation to ensure that employers cannot abuse undocumented immigrants and pay them substandard wages.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes, unionization is the most effective way for workers to protect themselves professionally, financially, and personally. Employees of state-funded organizations should be able to organize with written consent through the card-check process. I would sponsor and campaign for such a law.

Darrin Howell

  • Yes and yes. And I’ve been involved in union drives of this exact type in the past.

What action would you take to support non-union, undocumented, or otherwise vulnerable workers?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Continue to increase the minimum wage, continue to support union expansion, strengthen the laws prohibiting retaliation against workers and increase funding for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

Darryn Remillard

  • I support strengthening our state collective bargaining laws to increase the penalties for employers who interfere when their employees (including undocumented immigrants) organize and collectively bargain,

Segun Idowu

  • I would support any and all efforts to protect and support vulnerable workers, including but not limited to public support of job actions and expansion or workers’ rights.

Nika Elugardo

  • I will support efforts to pass higher wages and worker protections across the board for all workers. But I will also support efforts to unionize workplaces for workers regardless of immigration status. I will support legislation to ensure that employers cannot abuse undocumented immigrants and pay them substandard wages.

Ture Turnbull

  • I am deeply troubled by the decades-long decline of union membership. Notwithstanding, I do support issuing drivers licenses and allowing in-state tuition regardless of immigration status. This would improve the chances of undocumented, non-union, or vulnerable workers to find stable, fulfilling employment.

Darrin Howell

  • As a union and community organizer, I’ve worked on these issues for many years, and I have a lot of thoughts here. But for now I’ll just say that we need to do all we can to amplify and empower the voices of workers, regardless of their status.

Would you support legislation to prevent wage theft and more stringently punish employers who commit wage theft?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes.

Segun Idowu

  • Yes.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes. Absolutely. Wage theft is estimated to be larger than all other types of theft in the economy.

Ture Turnbull

  • Absolutely

Darrin Howell

  • Yes.

Would you support a One Fair Wage law in Massachusetts to end to the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes.

Segun Idowu

  • Yes.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes. Absolutely.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes

Darrin Howell

  • Yes. Over the years, I have been proud to work with the Youth Jobs Coalition partners, the Restaurant Opportunities Center, and others in support of ‘One Fair Wage’ legislation (currently H.2365 and S.1004). I understand the political considerations involved in our voter-facing Raise Up ballot initiative, which maintains a separate, albeit higher, wage floor for tipped workers. But my personal opinion is that workers, employers, and the overall economy would be better off with a $15 minimum wage across the board — no tiers or other qualifiers attached.

Do you have campaign staff? If so, how much per hour are they paid, how much time off are they afforded, and what benefits are provided?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • I have a paid part-time Campaign Manager and a paid part-time Field Director. Both are paid more than $15/hour. One has health insurance through another part-time job and one is under 25 and still on their parent’s health insurance. They have whatever time off they need. Benefits include meals, transportation, and much love and support for the great work they do!

Darryn Remillard

  • We have a campaign consultant who we pay $750/month, and the rest of our campaign staff are volunteers.

Segun Idowu

  • My campaign is supported by part-time volunteers who are otherwise employed, but are in the process of hiring full-time staff who will be paid at least $15/hour.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes. The campaign director is paid a FTE annual equivalent of $63K, plus a campaign completion bonus (versus a “win” bonus) to bring to $70K. She is prorated to 30 or 32 hours on weeks where she does not work FT. All other staff are paid a minimum of $15/hour. All staff are independent I-9 contractors and receive no benefits. The campaign director is afforded paid time off for sickness or family care and was offered paid time off for vacation but declined the latter. Other staff are hourly and receive unpaid time off upon request. I am looking forward to future campaigns where my staff can be full-time and receive benefits.

Ture Turnbull

  • I have three part-time staff positions: campaign manager, field director, and finance manager all paid at least $15 per hour.

Darrin Howell

  • Yes. We are mostly a volunteer group, but those who are paid receive a living wage.

What would you do to support and encourage the establishment and growth of worker-owned and worker-managed enterprises in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes, absolutely.

Darryn Remillard

  • We should create a development fund for employee owned/operated businesses such that these enterprises can receive lower-interest loans to finance their startup/operations.

Segun Idowu

  • I would advance and wholeheartedly support legislation – and state funding – to support and encourage worker-owned and worker-managed enterprises.

Nika Elugardo

  • I would support legislation to help promote worker-owned and worker-managed cooperatives and enterprises in the state and remove any legal barriers to coop formation. I also think we should fund programs to support workers navigating the laws. There could be an education/information function similar to what the Office of Housing Stability in Boston does for housing.

Ture Turnbull

  • I would further expand cannabis dispensary licensing and parity for communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs, often communities of color. That is one subset of a larger problem; in my district, we stand to support locally-owned businesses and historically fought the corporatization of our main street and I continue to do so. The creative economy has a 5:1 return on investment; as Research Director on the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development, I worked with the Mass Cultural Council to secure their state budget funding.

Darrin Howell

  • I’ve worked on worker-led movements for the last decade and have a lot of organizing experience on this issue. I’d love to discuss ideas in earnest with your team!

Do you support a large-scale state public works and job guarantee program offering a regionally adjustable $15-25 living wage to all those willing and able to work, aiming to overcome both involuntary unemployment and working poverty?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes. We need a modern WPA.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes.

Segun Idowu

  • Yes.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes

Darrin Howell

  • Yes

What are your thoughts on the Fair Share Agenda and the Raise Up agenda?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • I support both and have lobbied for both.

Darryn Remillard

  • Now that the FSA isn’t on the 2018 ballot we need to get serious about fighting for a graduated, progressive income tax that doesn’t just bring in ~$2 billion in additional annual tax revenue, but rather brings in ~$$4 to $6 billion in additional annual tax revenue. This means a constitutional repeal of Article 44 of our state constitution that bans a graduated, progressive income tax and our state legislature enacting a fair income tax. I envision such fair tax where people who earn less than $25k/year pay NO state income tax, those between $25k-$50k pay a 4% income tax, those between $50k-$250k pay 5%, and for every further $250k bracket an additional 1% is paid. As for the RaiseUp Agenda: the intentions were good, but the outcome was corrupted by our state legislature. I will work to increase paid parental leave to 16 weeks. I don’t know how we get economic justice for the workers affected by the loss of paid time-and-a-half pay, but I am committed to working to restore this for them.

Segun Idowu

  • I support the goals of both agendas and would work with advocates to achieve said goals.

Nika Elugardo

  • I am deeply disappointed in the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court with regards to the constitutionality of the Fair Share Amendment. Business groups and wealthy corporate CEOs were able to negatively influence the decision and block the will of the voters, who qualified the Amendment for the ballot. In the legislature, I will work to pass the Fair Share Amendment via the legislative process to give us funding in 2019. I strongly reject the end of time and a half pay on Sundays and holidays. This was a giveaway to big business that the 80% supermajority Democrats had no business enacting into law. This will hurt many working people badly. I also believe we should have created one fair wage and end the tipped subminimum wage.

Ture Turnbull

  • I believe that the recent MA Supreme Court decision barring the existing Fair Share ballot question from the 2018 ballot is an affront to our society’s continued development; the Fair Share and Raise Up agendas address long-standing concerns among workers and the subsequent financial instability caused by their lack of protection and fair wages. The Fair Share Amendment (Millionaire’s Tax) is common-sense tax policy and should have been passed by our state legislature years ago. Their inaction is one of the main reasons I am seeking office. I have supported these positions for a number of years and would sponsor legislation to see these changes enacted.

Darrin Howell

  • It’s a start. I was involved from the very beginning, and I’d love to talk more about our next steps. But we have a long way to go before we can truly call our commonwealth “fair” or “raised up”.

 


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