Our last social contract during the New Deal era was a step forward for the human rights of workers. But it fell short of guaranteeing decent jobs for all, and for much of the 20th century divided workers along lines of race and gender. As capital has globalized, employers have exploited divisions among workers along with the threat of joblessness to erode working conditions in the United States and across the globe. As a result, most US families today are living paycheck to paycheck in a constant state of economic and social insecurity and our 20th century social contract has unraveled.
But working people, through their social movements and organizations—unions, networks, worker centers and community groups to name just a few—are developing new solutions. Many of these ideas have been tested at smaller scale, and all of them offer a dramatically different future for working families. They express a faith in both human rights and democracy in the workplace, which translates into economic and public policy that guarantees decent jobs for all and affords workers the power and dignity to shape the terms and conditions of their work.
To begin to build a new social contract for workers, our New Social Contract for Workers report is calling for the following bold new public policies:
• The Right to Collective Action at Scale: Sectoral Bargaining
• Freedom from Arbitrary Job Loss: “Just Cause” Employment
• The Human Right to a Decent Job: A Federal Job Guarantee
• Democracy at Work: The Cooperative Advantage
• Universal Guarantees to Basic Needs: Medicare for All and Universal Family Care
In addition to calling for these five transformational policies, workers are urging action on a broader agenda of other badly needed labor reforms. Too many of our elected leaders are blocking serious dialogue about these alternatives. Many are scapegoating Black and brown families, especially those who are new immigrants, for increased economic injustice or blaming globalization, automation, and other economic forces. In reality, these injustices are the results of public policy decisions. Looking ahead to the 2020 election, we are demanding more from our leaders who should be fighting for us. Read more in our New Social Contract for Workers report.