Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke unveiled his plan to give workers more rights and higher pay and strengthen unions.
The former Texas representative wants to establish a baseline of strong labor rights for all workers so employers compete through productivity and innovation rather than how little they can pay their workers. He appealed to families that are working multiple jobs to make ends meet, the rallying cry for the recent food catering workers who protested at the American Airlines headquarters earlier this month.
He also calls for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, arguing that no one should be living below the poverty line in the United States.
"We need to be there for workers across the country who have always been the engine of our economy," O'Rourke said. "We need to keep up the fight for $15 an hour to ensure that one job is enough -- and no one needs to work a second or third just to support themselves and their families. Only then can we build an economy that finally works for everyone in the country."
O'Rourke challenged President Donald Trump's assertion that the unemployment rate is the lowest it's been in 50 years. That doesn't tell the whole story, he said, pointing out that the black unemployment rate is twice what the rate is for whites and the share of prime-age Americans with a job is below its peak in the 2000s.
He also wants to give all workers the ability to unionize and benefit from collective bargaining.
"The decline of labor unions is a major reason why American workers are struggling," O'Rourke said. "Unions raise the bar for all workers -- but today, only about 10 percent of workers are union members, which has led to a reduction in the wages of all American workers."
He would also work with Congress to require employers to offer seven paid sick days a year.
O'Rourke is ranked near the middle or the bottom in most polls.