Organizing the American Dream

Gov. Jay Inslee's plan to reinvest in unions, workers, and the right to collectively bargain. 

For decades, Republicans have led an all-out assault on American workers aimed at maximizing profits for CEOs and shareholders at the expense of American families. These CEOs and their allies in the Republican Party spent billions electing anti-worker politicians, passing anti-union legislation, lowering wages, slashing benefits, and creating an economy that is rigged against the average American family. For years, they’ve spun the story that the only way to build an economy is to slash wages and benefits in order to maximize wealth and profit to shareholders and CEOs. 

Trump’s economy might work for CEOs and the top 1%, but it’s left hundreds of millions of workers behind. While President Trump and his allies changed the rules so the stock market broke records, their actions made sure that wages stagnated, healthcare costs soared, and support for child care, K-12 schools, and higher education were slashed. 

There is another way: In Washington state, Governor Inslee has turned the Republican myth of trickle down economics on its head. Inslee has shown that by investing in workers, raising wages, and supporting unions that you can build the nation’s best economy. 

As governor, Inslee has raised the minimum wage to the highest state-based wage in the country, invested hundreds of millions in K-12 education and teacher salaries, cut tuition and created a new gold standard for state financial aid, passed the nation’s best paid family and medical leave law, instituted a program for paid sick days, and more. Through Inslee’s leadership and commitment to supporting workers, Washington state has built the fastest-growing economy in the nation and earned a reputation for being the best place to work in the country. 

Supporting unions has been essential to Inslee’s economic formula. As union membership has grown, Washington’s economy and wages have grown along with it. As wages and benefits improve, more workers see the value of union membership. Economic success plus worker success has meant rapid union expansion: Washington is now the country’s third-most unionized state. This growth is in spite of a determined attack by corporate special interests, as unions and elected leaders have organized and worked together to check corporate power and restore some balance to an economic playing field that has been tilted to the extreme in favor of CEOs and shareholders. 

Unions are critical for workers. They bargain to raise wages, win benefits, and provide workplace health and safety protections. It is far past time that we had a president that was willing to stand up to corporate power on behalf of workers. As president, Governor Inslee will bring the same dedication and commitment to working people that he’s demonstrated in Washington state. 

Governor Inslee was the only candidate to talk about labor, organizing and workers during the first two nights of presidential debates. And with his “Organizing the American Dream: Jay Inslee’s plan to reinvest in unions, workers, and the right to collectively bargain," he now becomes the first presidential candidate to develop a robust roadmap for restoring unions and protecting workers nationwide. 

Governor Inslee’s Organizing the American Dream plan will take the following nine steps to restore wages, undo the damage of the last 40 years of Republican and corporate attacks on unions, and ensure every person, no matter who they are or where they work, has the right to join a union and collectively bargain for the pay and benefits they deserve:

Governor Inslee’s Organizing the American Dream Plan

  • Step 1: Pay workers a fair wage
  • Step 2: Give everyone good benefits
  • Step 3: Check corporate power and restore the right to organize
  • Step 4: Provide true corporate accountability
  • Step 5: Demand equity in the workplace
  • Step 6: Create a robust apprenticeship, training and certificate system
  • Step 7: Create 8 million new jobs building the clean energy economy
  • Step 8: Global protections for workers
  • Step 9: A just transition for workers

These nine steps, when taken together, represent a major and needed reinvestment in American workers, a restoration of balance and check on corporate power, and a belief that the best way to rebuild the middle class is to restore the right to organize and collectively bargain in a union. 

Step 1: Pay workers a fair wage

Want to support workers? Pay them well. Governor Inslee leads a state with the best economy in the country and the highest state-based minimum wage. He knows that the strongest economies are built when you invest in a “middle-out” economy where all people receive fair wages rather than the false-hope “trickle down” economies where the richer get richer and the rest of the workers get nothing except low pay and no benefits. 

Wage floors are especially important for workers of color, women and LGBTQ workers. Almost 1/5th of Latinx workers and over 14% of black workers are paid poverty-level wages — meaning even though they work hard everyday, they still live in poverty. The percentages are similar for other workers of color and LGBTQ workers as well. Increasing minimum wages, installing strong prevailing wages, and setting wage standards raises wages for traditionally disadvantaged workers. 

Governor Inslee’s economy will be a fair wage economy, and will be built on the following standards: 

  • $15 minimum wage. Raising the federal minimum wage to $15/hour by 2024, pegged to the median hourly wage thereafter, will provide workers the ability to support themselves and their families as the cost of living across the country continues to increase. Higher wages will make it more likely for workers to survive on one job instead of two or three jobs. People will be able to buy more, which will put money back into the economy. 

  • A true prevailing wage standard for all federally funded projects. The Inslee administration will extend Davis-Bacon Act requirements to all federally funded projects, regardless of source of funds, to all federal licenses and permits, and to all federal contractors. In addition, Inslee will require prevailing wages to apply to all federal procurement and work to raise prevailing wages to meet contract-bargained wages in specific sectors in a geographic area. 

  • $25 minimum wage for clean energy workers. Governor Inslee commits that workers in the clean energy economy that are supported with federal dollars will start every job at a $25 per hour floor, and will rise with inflation. This ensures the clean energy industry is a family-wage industry from day one. 

  • Get paid overtime when you work overtime. Governor Inslee will modernize the nation’s overtime rules to protect and adequately compensate millions of workers who put in more than 40 hours a week, but receive no overtime pay. The Obama Administration advanced overtime rules that expanded the overtime threshold to $47,476, but the Trump Administration reversed those rules, essentially cutting overtime pay for an estimated 4 million workers. Washington state is currently completing a rule-making process to update its overtime rules to adequately compensate those who work well past 9 to 5, another example of Washington state leadership to create a fair economy in the face of the Trump Administration’s constant assault on worker wages and benefits.

Step 2: National Family Policy: Worker policies that protect families 

To support and rebuild the middle class we must pass policies that support workers and families. In Washington state, Governor Inslee has made this approach his top priority. From implementing the best paid family leave and sick leave program in the country, to signing the country’s first long-term care program, to reinvesting in K-12 schools, giving teachers the highest pay raise in the country, and creating a game-changing program for affordable higher education, Inslee has always prioritized working families. 

These programs, when taken together, become the foundation for building the middle class. In his “Putting Families First” plan, Governor Inslee proposes taking these successful Washington programs national, and in doing so start the process of investing in Americans instead of giving trillions away to CEOs and corporations. Inslee’s Putting Families First Plan calls for: 

  • Paid family leave. Governor Inslee will make sure everyone has the opportunity to care for themselves or a loved one from birth to end of life so that they do not have to choose between a paycheck and caring for their health and family. Building off of Washington state’s best-in-the-nation Paid Family Medical Leave law, Inslee’s policy will establish a federal insurance program that provides for 12 weeks of leave and nearly full wage replacement. Employers of all sizes will participate, and employees are allowed to take this leave without fear of retaliation from their employer. 

  • Paid sick days. When we’re sick or a family member is sick, we should have the  time we need to get healthy. Going to work sick, especially when you work in the food or retail industry, risks spreading illnesses. And when you go to work sick you just stay sick longer. Everyone should be able to afford to take time off from work to get themselves better without the fear of losing their job.  Governor Inslee proposes a national paid sick day policy based on Washington state’s program that provides every worker a minimum of 7 paid sick days a year to use to care for themselves or the health needs of a family member. Employees would be allowed to use paid sick days without fear of retaliation from their employer — a protection that’s essential for participation. 

  • Affordable child care. Under Governor Inslee’s plan, no one would be held out of the workforce because they couldn’t afford child care. His plan caps child care costs for middle and low income families at 7% of income — and guarantees coverage for infants, toddlers, after school and summer programs. 

  • Universal healthcare. Healthcare is a right, and Governor Inslee’s plan makes sure that everyone has affordable care. Governor Inslee led one of the most effective and efficient implementations of Obamacare, which now covers over 800,000 Washingtonians. He also signed into law the country’s first state-level public option for health care. As president, Governor Inslee will make sure everyone had coverage, expand subsidies and crack down on pharmaceutical companies and hospitals that try to make big profits off of us when we’re sick.  

  • Higher education for every worker. Under Governor Inslee’s leadership, the state of Washington has developed the best higher education affordability program in the country. If you want to go to school to learn skills — at the community college, apprenticeship, or four year college level — an Inslee administration will make it free or affordable for you to do so. 

  • Long term care for the aging and people with disabilities. Inslee will take his groundbreaking long term care law that he helped pass in Washington state national, providing resources to families as they plan to care for aging loved ones. 

In every one of these family policies, the support Americans receive at school, in the hospital, or at home depends on workers. Those workers must be fairly compensated and adequately protected. As Governor, Inslee has made sure Washington state takes care of the workers that takes care of its people. The same will be true in an Inslee White House, and he is committed to: 

  • Paying educators, higher education, healthcare, home healthcare and child care workers adequately, giving them the benefits they deserve, and creating systems to give them access to a union. As Governor, Inslee gave teachers in Washington state the country’s biggest raise. As president, Inslee will fund K-12 public schools and higher education federal programs contingent on locally determined pay increases for educators. These federal funds will not be available for charter or voucher programs. The same will hold in healthcare and home healthcare — by investing in workers our healthcare system will be better, it will reduce costs, and it will save more lives. 

  • Partnering with union experts and federally funded workforce providers to create labor-management training and certificate programs that improve worker safety, expand worker skill, and allow for and protect opportunities for workers to join unions. Governor Inslee has helped to create the model for this type of training program in Washington state through the SEIU Healthcare NW Training Partnership — the nation’s largest training provider serving home health care workers who provide long-term care for home care recipients.

  • Setting standards for “high road” wages and benefits for all the growing economies. Governor Inslee will use prevailing wages, Project Labor Agreements, Community Benefit Agreements and more to work with other major industrial sectors such as clean energy, health care and education to ensure wage standards are set so all employees and sectors benefit. 

Step 3: Check corporate power and restore the right to organize

The decline of the middle class and the rise of the super-rich CEO and the mega-corporation can be linked to the assault on labor unions by the corporate lobby and the Republican Party. They have worked to change laws, appoint anti-worker judges, and create rules that make forming a union and bargaining in good faith harder than ever, all in the name of greater profit for shareholders and higher CEO payouts. 

As president, Jay Inslee will reverse this trend. He will use his executive powers to restore basic wage protections for workers and he will work with Congress to restore the laws that protect workers across industry. He will reverse Trump’s anti-worker Executive Orders that hurt workers and families and he will stand up for the workers that labor laws leave behind: domestic workers, farm workers, independent contractors, and workers in America’s small businesses. He will fight to make sure that no matter who you are, what you do, and who you work for, you will have the right to join a union and win the fair wages and benefits you deserve. 

Governor Inslee’s plan would: 

  • Give every worker the right to collectively bargain. Governor Inslee will make sure every worker can join a union. He will work with Congress to amend the National Labor Relations Act to give all workers the right to collectively bargain, adding lower level supervisors, domestic workers, farm workers, and independent contractors to those that receive bargaining rights. In addition, Governor Inslee supports the right to organize for all federal, state, and local public sector workers as proposed by the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act by Rep. Cartwright and Senator Hirono.

  • Provide the right to bargain with the employers in power. If a corporation has the power to improve working conditions for an employee, Inslee will work to make sure that the employee will have the right to bargain with them — even if it’s not the direct employer. As the relationship between workers, employers, and corporations change, Inslee will work to make sure that workers have the ability to bargain where the power is. 

  • Give workers a true “Right to Strike.” Every worker should have the right to strike, protest, boycott and picket their employer without the fear of retaliation or replacement. 

  • Require Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs) for all federal projects. PLAs help ensure fair wages because they force competition quality and efficiency rather than a race to the bottom on wages and employment standards. CBAs are effective in supporting green building development, making affordable housing available, and providing job training in major programs around the country. Inslee will require both in federal contracts.

  • Empower worker organizations to organize, bargain and strike at the sectoral level. Sectoral bargaining rights give more workers the opportunity to organize a union and expands on rights that are difficult to organize under the National Labor Relations Act. 

  • Recognize card check and majority rules collective bargaining and require reasonable timelines for contracts. Expanding union organizing by amending the National Labor Relations Act to recognize the establishment of a represented collective bargaining unit when a majority of workers vote to form a union or a majority of workers sign authorization cards to join a union, and to set standards and specific, enforceable deadlines for swiftly establishing first contracts between employers and bargaining units. 

  • End union-busting, so-called “right-to-work” (RTW) laws. Inslee will repeal the provisions of the federal Taft-Hartley Act that permit free-riders in the RTW laws in states. RTW laws result in lower wages for workers living in states that have them relative to their counterparts living in non-RTW states; they limit workers’ rights to collectively bargain or protect themselves from predatory employers; and they are purposefully designed to eviscerate union membership. 

  • Expand “just cause” protections. When workers are not protected by union contracts, they can be fired for no reason at all. Often times, the primary reason workers are afraid to organize a union is because they fear losing their job, and speaking up for any reason at all puts employees at risk. Governor Inslee calls for an expansion of just cause protections so workers can be fired for only legitimate, performance related reasons.

  • Fix the NLRB. Right now, a weakened NLRB is incapable of holding corporations accountable when they avoid treating and compensating their workers with the respect that contracts and the law requires. Governor Inslee will invest in restoring the NLRB. That starts with appointing Board members that will uphold labor contracts and laws, address conflicts and complaints quickly, and use the NLRB to require corporations to do the basics: follow the law, bargain with organized employees, immediate reinstatement for employees that are illegally dismissed for organizing, and meaningful remedies for workers when employers violate the law. 

  • Set federal pay standards for federally funded programs. In addition to strengthening and expanding prevailing wage standards, Inslee will work with corporations, employers, employees and public advocates to create a system of recommended wages for workers in different federally funded job sectors. These wage recommendations can serve as guides for states and cities to set universal wage floors for workers in different industry sectors. Inslee will also use these wage standards as federal standards in contracts and procurement.  

Step 4: Corporate accountability 

Corporations have more power and more wealth than ever before. Under President Trump, corporate profits have soared while worker wages and benefits have flatlined. Corporate taxes have been slashed, CEOs pay less in taxes than receptionists and janitors, companies regularly break labor and discrimination laws and never pay the consequences, and in Washington DC and across the country, corporate-funded, gerrymandered Republican politicians are passing new laws that hurt workers to give more and more power to large corporations. The attacks on workers have gotten so extreme, and so downright mean, that it’s become hard to understand why Republicans are so committed to hurting working people so much. But they are, it has to stop, and Governor Inslee is committed to doing it. 

As Governor, Inslee has led Washington state to be the most worker-friendly state in the country. Under his leadership wages have risen, benefits are provided, and workers have had the chance to join unions — and they’re doing it in droves. Inslee will bring the same commitment to workers he has in Olympia to Washington DC. His policies demand that we: 

  • Make corporations pay their fair share in taxes. The first step in corporate accountability is to reverse the Trump tax cut for corporations and make sure they pay their fair share. With corporations paying their fair share in taxes, the Inslee administration will be able to invest in worker benefit programs like universal healthcare, paid family leave, paid sick days, long term care programs, free and affordable higher education, and more.  

  • Enforce labor laws, strengthen penalties against illegal corporate activity. Governor Inslee will grant power and resources to the Department of Labor and incentivize municipalities and states to co-enforce labor laws and standards by contracting with labor unions and community organizations for that purpose. Seattle is one among a growing number of cities that partners with local community organizations to inform and assist workers in understanding and exercising their labor rights, including the $15/hour minimum wage, paid sick and safe leave, and more.

  • Make corporations pay for their illegal activity. Before corporations may enter into contracts with the federal government, Governor Inslee will require a “clean slate” in terms of illegal anti-worker activity. Any labor law violations and fines, including NLRA violations, must be addressed by any corporation before entering into contracts with the government. 

  • Robustly protect the rights of workers and fine corporate lawbreakers. When employers break existing labor law by discouraging or preventing workers from collectively bargaining or otherwise retaliate against workers, Inslee will create new rules to mandate swift and consistent enforcement of federal law on employers to force changes in corporate behavior and give worker-organizing efforts the opportunity to succeed. This will include significantly increasing fines on illegal corporate activity, broadening strike rights, giving workers a private right of action when their rights are violated, and expanding misclassification and joint-employer protections. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act proposed by Rep. Bobby Scott and Sens. Patty Murray and Sherrod Brown, provides a detailed road map of the specific actions needed. Finally, as president, Governor Inslee would appoint members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) who would enforce the 2015 Browning-Ferris ruling on Joint Enforcement Standards. 

  • Protect whistleblowers. Governor Inslee will work with Congress to pass whistleblower protections that make sure workers are safe from retaliation when they report corporate or government wrongdoing. Inslee will support strong fines for illegal activity, job restoration, a private right of action for wrongful termination, and enhanced penalties when corporations attack workers when employee action would help protect the public good. 

  • Neutrality agreements in every federal contract. If a corporation signed a contract to do work with the federal government under the Inslee administration, the contract will include a neutrality agreement. Corporations that work for the government must not interfere with workers’ decision to organize. At the local level, state and local governments should also have the right to apply labor peace requirements to any of its contracts to protect employees. 

  • Protection and accountability for pensions. Inslee would hold corporations accountable to pay their pension debt when they enter into bankruptcy. One reason many corporations enter into bankruptcy to begin with is to avoid fulfilling their obligation to workers, Inslee would make sure that pensions are fully maintained and make the corporations responsible pay their bills. Pension protection would also be extended to municipal pensions in the case of Chapter 9 bankruptcy. 

  • Pensions first, parachutes last. As part of Inslee’s pension protection programs, he would require that pensions get the first dollars in bankruptcy proceedings and CEO and corporate executive parachutes would be the last dollars paid — this makes sure that workers, and not CEOs are protected during corporate bankruptcies. 

  • Ban one-on-one anti-union meetings. Often employers use one-on-one meetings during worker organizing drives to bully workers against supporting a union. If employers want to talk about unions, they should speak in public where worker rights are protected. 

  • Worker private right of action for labor law violations. In order to make sure labor laws are fully enforced, workers will be given their own private right of action to sue corporations that break the law. This worker enforcement tool helps reduce illegal corporate activity and restores some balance when workers attempt to organize. 

  • Give workers freedom and ban non-compete clauses for most workers. Inslee will work with Congress to ban non-compete clauses. Non-compete clauses artificially restrict workers’ ability to take the best job at the best wage. 

  • Ban forced arbitration. Inslee will end forced arbitration clauses in employment contracts. This comes in response to the Epic Systems v. Lewis decision and is similar to the approach taken by Reps. Nadler and Scott and Sen. Murray in their Restoring Justice for Workers Act.

  • Require political transparency for all corporations. Governor Inslee will require corporations to report all political and lobbying activity so their interests are transparent and easily identified. 

Step 5: Demand equity

Every employee deserves to be fairly compensated for their work and fairly treated in the workplace, regardless of their race, gender, or any other factor. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to expand the rights of workers to organize and collectively bargain, as attacks on workers disproportionately impact women and workers of color. New laws and standards are needed to curb a growing force of corporate power that is artificially keeping wages low. As president, Governor Inslee will improve labor laws to enforce basic wage, require transparency and equity in pay and benefits, and shift power in the workplace back to employees by:

  • Establishing strong pay equity laws. Governor Inslee will work with Congress to pass a pay equity law that mirrors the best-in-the-country pay equity protections established in Washington state. Washington’s law allows employees to share salary and compensation information without fear of retaliation. 

  • Creating strong provisions for compensation transparency and worker mobility. This year, Washington state passed legislation requiring disclosure of salary information by employers for listed positions, and barring employers from asking for salary history, as well as legislation heavily restricting the use of non-competition agreements and “no-poach” agreements that limit a worker’s ability to move to different jobs or seek better wages. These policies are a model for the nation.

  • Pass the Equality Act. Governor Inslee will work to pass the same protections for the LGBTQ community at the federal level that he has instituted at the state level: no one will be able to be fired, demoted, harassed, refused housing, or denied services or public accommodation because of their sexuality or gender identity.  

  • Restore affirmative action. In 2019, Governor Inslee helped passed Initiative 1000 to overturn some of the prohibitions against affirmative action in the state of Washington. In order to give workers across the country better access to the jobs they deserve, Governor Inslee will work to restore common sense affirmative action policies that promote the hiring of workers of color, women, and LGBTQ workers. 

Step 6:  Create a Climate Corps, apprenticeships, training, and certificates

A professional and skilled workforce needs training and experience. Governor Inslee is committed to creating a national network of training programs, apprenticeships and entry-level experiences to allow people to enter into the workforce in a way that will boost pay and set them up for a career. 

Throughout this presidential campaign, Governor Inslee has called for a renewed investment in training programs co-managed by unions, community colleges and the federal government that allow workers to learn new skills, expand current skills, introduce workers to unions, earn certificates of mastery that increase pay and more. Inslee has also called for a reinvestment in apprenticeships and a “Climate Corps” program that introduces millions of new workers to the clean energy future. Inslee will invest in and create: 

  • Strong apprenticeships. Inslee’s “Ready for the Future” plan calls for 1.5 million new registered apprenticeships, a tripling of the current apprenticeship programs, so workers new and old can learn skilled trades. These programs will be co-managed by the government, labor unions, and community colleges so workers have multiple points of entry. 

  • Access to community college for all. Inslee calls for free and heavily-subsidized community college so everyone has access to school and career technical education training tools. 

  • Training and certificate programs to increase quality of care and worker pay. Inslee will use the model he’s created in Washington state to build labor-management partnerships that connect workers to training programs for clean energy certificates (like the Green Super program), for home healthcare workers (like the NW Training Partnership he created in Washington to train home healthcare worker), and more so workers get on the job training and the opportunity to win pay increases when they learn new skills. By attaching certificates to training programs that then match to union contracts, workers can find steps in their career to increase their compensation and develop a plan to support their family. 

  • Climate Corps. Governor Inslee helped create the Clean Energy Service Corps while in Congress, and as president he will expand that program to give workers the opportunity to gain experience in the clean energy field while also helping communities across the country and across the globe effectively transition to the clean energy economy. 

Step 7: Create 8 million jobs in the clean energy economy

One good way to support workers is to create good paying, union jobs in every community. Governor Inslee’s Evergreen Economy Plan creates 8 million new jobs. His investment in workers will allow the country and the world to transition to a clean energy economy. His plan calls for:

  • Retrofitting every American building over the next 25 years

  • Rebuilding America’s drinking water systems, and building new and sustainable energy, transmission, smart grid and transportation infrastructure

  • Achieving 100% clean energy in electricity, new vehicles and buildings over the next 10-15 years

  • Investments in research and development to capture the next generation of clean energy technologies

  • And more.

By investing in new jobs in the clean energy sector, and by making sure every job is connected to access to a labor union, good pay (at least $25 per hour) and full benefits (thanks to national investments in family care policies) — Governor Inslee creates a roadmap to restore the U.S. economy in a way where workers can lead, be compensated and treated fairly on the job.

Step 8: Global protections for workers

In our global trade policy, it is the obligation of the U.S. government to protect its workers and our planet as it grows its economy. For too long, our trade policy has treated labor and environmental standards as secondary to corporate and shareholder profits. Our resulting trade policies have left a legacy of layoffs, worker insecurity, growing environmental inequity and more. We can change all of that with a president that is committed to “high road” trade policies with meaningful labor and environmental standards at their core that promote economic growth while defending workers’ rights and aggressively advancing climate protection. Strong worker trade policy only happens if you have a president committed to them, strong enforcement that gives workers equal footing with corporations, and resources to enforce compliance. Every American trade agreement in an Inslee Administration will ensure strong and enforceable labor and environmental standards that protect both people and the planet, including:

  • Guarantee that U.S. trade policies recognize robust standards for labor rights. This is important for workers and essential to climate-safe, worker-friendly trade. These efforts must: modernize and correct shortcomings of previous agreements; make gains in enforceability; extend a labor rights agenda to new partners; provide a private right of action for workers in U.S. courts for labor abuses abroad; and expand the range of issues covered to address emerging labor rights challenges.

  • Install the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Core Labor Standards as the benchmark for robust worker protections. These standards build on the ILO Declaration of Universal Fundamental Labor Rights including: "(a) freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; (b) the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor; (c) the effective abolition of child labor; and (d) the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation." The U.S. government has previously ratified some but not all core labor standards. Governor Inslee’s plan will commit to all of the ILO’s core labor conventions and make sure all trade agreements are given the full force of presidential leadership.

  • A living “floor” wage for workers, without forced overtime. All Inslee trade agreements will: disallow the waiving of labor laws; require full payment of all wages and benefits legally owed; guarantee that rights for workers are universal for both migrant workers and a country’s nationals; and establish strong, enforceable rules around international labor recruitment to prevent human trafficking. All trade agreements will take a clear stand to ban the importation of goods that use compulsory labor and child labor and set standards for worker safety from chemicals, unsafe workplaces, and sexual and physical harassment.

  • Adopt consumer right-to-know clauses. When American consumers know the origin of products and the kind of labor used in their production, they can help hold the world to higher standards of worker protection. 

  • Maintain procurement power. Inslee will eliminate procurement provisions that require governments to treat foreign bidders the same as U.S. bidders. The government must be allowed to use procurement as a tool to encourage local investment and promote climate responsibility. 

  • Co-enforcement of labor standards. Inslee will empower the ILO as a technical assistance provider on labor and environmental standards, and work through U.S. government agencies to provide direct technical assistance to protectorates for labor and environmental enforcement. Proactive support is essential to enable strong and enforceable rules that achieve sustained compliance.

  • Set strong timelines for labor enforcement with stiff penalties that increase if companies delay or ignore labor violations. Agreements will include tools that empower enforcement, including the ability to impose additional tariffs and a private right of action to provide citizen relief to labor violations. 

  • Fund global worker protection and trade enforcement. Inslee’s administration will allocate resources for enforcement both by the federal government as well as access and power for co-enforcement by labor and NGOs so pro-worker organizations can advocate for workers when governments do not.

Step 9: Workers-first plan to address trade, climate, and economic dislocation

When external impacts create free-falls and job-loss in the economy, CEOs almost always get golden parachutes while workers get anvils. When the economy changes, we must forthrightly protect workers and guarantee access to a real transition — without shifting the risks and costs associated with economic change right onto workers’ backs or in taxpayers’ wallets. Governor Inslee’s Evergreen Economy Plan and his Global Climate Mobilization plan calls for full transitions and support for workers — not just “training” but jobs, benefits, and pension protection.

Transitions are only successful if workers and communities have thriving local economies and long term job prospects at home. That’s why Governor Inslee calls for a workers first plan that will: 

  • Create a “G.I. Bill” for impacted workers and fossil fuel community reinvestment. Workers in fossil fuel industries face dislocation driven by market forces as industry shifts to cleaner, cheaper and more efficient energy. Governor Inslee will protect workers in changing economies by restoring our nation’s commitment to workers. Governor Inslee’s efforts will be modeled on the precedent of the solemn promise of the “G.I Bill” to our nation’s veterans: providing economic security to workers facing plant closures, trade dislocation, and industrial transition. Details of the Governor’s G.I. Bill are included in his Evergreen Economy Plan. 

  • Replace wages and benefits when trade and major economic shifts result in mass unemployment. Governor Inslee will expand and streamline income and wage loss supports for unemployed workers in transition, ensuring that trade-related impacts, or the effects of decarbonizing the economy, do not result in interrupted earnings for U.S. workers. Assuring universal access to these benefits will streamline the qualification for benefits to ensure access regardless of the specific cause of the dislocation, which minimizes the burden for individual workers in accessing income security.

  • Guarantee health insurance and pension benefits to impacted workers. This is essential to reduce economic dislocation of trade impact or climate-impacted workers. Governor Inslee’s Evergreen Economy and Global Climate Mobilization Plans call for protecting medical retirement benefits for workers impacted in economic transition. Workers will have their jobs and benefits protected even as they begin new careers and start new training processes.

  • Training and certificate programs that help workers and give them access to union support and jobs. Create modern and adaptive worker-training and skill-certification programs that are state financed and run by unions, community colleges and state-sanctioned registered apprenticeship programs to assist workers in job searches, or targeted retraining tied to strategic industries and specific employers. States like Rhode Island, Maine and Washington are developing training programs to assist workers in gaining additional certificate programs that help them win higher wages and secure employment.