5 Priorities for 2022
Under President Biden, we've added millions of jobs and experienced the fastest growing economy in decades. But we still have a long way to go. Here are the top five bold solutions for the problems facing working people.
I. LABOR LAW ENFORCEMENT
Our outdated labor laws no longer protect the rights of workers to organize and bargain. For too long employers have been allowed to violate these basic rights with impunity because current law includes no penalties for doing so.
The Building a Better America agenda will include a key provision from the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act that would hold corporations accountable, by allowing the National Labor Relations Board to penalize employers who retaliate against working people in support of the union or collective bargaining and impose civil monetary penalties for unfair labor practices like firing workers for organizing.
II. INVESTMENTS IN ENERGY AND MANUFACTURING SUPPLY CHAIN UNION JOBS
The climate crisis and the instability in energy supplies exacerbated by the war in Ukraine have underscored the urgent need for a new, resilient energy and supply chain strategy that creates good jobs, stable and diverse energy supplies, and robust domestic supply chains along with reduced emissions.
The Building a Better America agenda will make historic investments in energy and manufacturing supply chain union jobs. This will include large-scale investments to build and deploy clean and advanced energy projects and technologies hand in hand with bonus credits for prevailing wage and apprentice utilization, union-made electric vehicles and other technology, and Buy American; as well as additional funding for rail, transit and the postal vehicle fleet.
The plan also will invest at a globally competitive scale to build the next generation of technology in America and in America’s manufacturing communities. This will include tax credits that jump-start advanced energy technology manufacturing in factories nationwide and for coal, energy and manufacturing community job creation. It will invest to retool factories at risk of closure; to establish domestic supply chains in the wind, solar and advanced vehicle technologies; and to upgrade, cut pollution and secure domestic jobs in basic industries like steel, cement, and food and fuel production.
III. LOWERING COSTS FOR OUR FAMILIES
Working families, especially women workers, have shouldered a disproportionate economic burden during the pandemic. Only 20% of workers have access to paid family and medical leave. The uncertainty of COVID-19 variants and unplanned child care and school closures continue to be barriers to work for many women.
Quality child care is unavailable for many working families and very expensive. Currently lower-income families spend 33% of their income to provide care for children under the age of 13 while they work, while higher-income families spend 11% of their income on child care.
The Building a Better America plan will cap the amount of household income spent to provide child care while preserving parental choice among a range of options for the best care for children. The important work of caring for the nation’s children is provided by a workforce that is largely women of color and immigrant and historically devalued. The Building a Better America plan will provide the care workforce with fair compensation and benefits and protect their right to organize.
The American Rescue Plan’s child tax credit program is recognized as an investment in children and the most successful anti-poverty program in the United States. Extension of the child tax credit ensures continuation of payments that slashed child poverty and hunger rates, and helped parents across income levels and racial and ethnic groups.
IV. BETTER HEALTH CARE
President Biden’s plan provides crucial relief for health care inflation by slashing prices for prescription drugs. Drug corporations have increased prices for major drugs by 277% over the past 15 years, resulting in nearly 60 million people being unable to afford medications each year. The president’s plan will allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices for a number of the highest cost drugs and will cap annual price increases at the rate of inflation.
The Building a Better America plan also will provide much-needed help for seniors and people with disabilities by funding a historic expansion of home care services to support community living.
In addition, the plan will extend affordable health care to 2 million people caught in the “coverage gap” in states that have blocked coverage for low-income individuals provided by the Affordable Care Act.
V. INVESTMENTS IN EDUCATION
The Building a Better America agenda includes a life-changing set of policies that will make a difference for all Americans. It will make good on President Biden’s promise to help our country recover, and to help families better their lives with opportunity, regardless of who they are and where they live.
The agenda is the most transformative investment in children in generations and will make historic down payments on the very things people rely on most, including two years of free pre-K, so more than 6 million kids can access learning at a young age. It also will ensure livable wages for early educators; invest in the teacher pipeline; and provide funding for professional development for special education teachers.
The agenda also will expand free school meals to more than 8.7 million children during the school year and extend the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer program nationwide for 3 million students to close the summer meal gap and provide children with food. The Building a Better America agenda will also increase the maximum Pell Grant by $550 for more than 5 million students and provide monumental investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority Serving Institutions, working to make higher education more affordable and accessible.