September 21, 2012

Natalie Patrick-Knox

The POWER Act: A Tool for Rebuilding the Middle Class

Reposted from The POWER Campaign

The U.S. Census Bureau once again confirmed that the middle class is shrinking and poverty is on the rise.  In today’s environment where it is not only viable, but economically rational for employers to exploit and retaliate against workers, it is easy to understand how we have ended up on a road headed toward increasing inequality.

Thankfully more than 20 leading expert labor and economic policy organizations have collaborated on a new report laying out a road map of common sense policies that have the potential to change the course of current U.S. economic trends.  The POWER Act, a legislative component of the POWER Campaign, is one of the common sense policies included in the road map.

“10 Ways to Rebuild the Middle Class,” provides a snap shot of ten issues that require deliberate action if we are to get away from putting short-term profits over workers, hollowing out the middle class, and undermining our long-term prosperity.   The report lifts up the growing problem of wage theft – where employers steal wages by paying workers less than the minimum wage, not paying workers overtime, or not paying workers at all.  The POWER Act is spotlighted in the report as a real policy answer to our nation’s wage theft problem.  The report recommends the adoption of the POWER Act to wisely ensure that immigrant workers who face wage theft or try to exercise their basic civil and labor rights are protected from retaliation.

The POWER Campaign shares the core value of the report, “that all work has dignity; and that through work, all of us should be able to support our families, educated our children and enjoy our retirements.”  Moreover, as the POWER Campaign continues to develop its organizing components, it has the potential to tackle some of the other nine issues mentioned in the report, such as upholding the freedom to join unions and protecting worker safety and health.

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