Workers Voted for Higher Pay, Healthcare, Democracy; Action Expected by New House and State Leaders

Washington, D.C.—Following is a statement from Christine Owens, Executive Director, National Employment Law Project:

“Yesterday, voters across the political spectrum showed they want action on key working-family issues as they backed ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage, expand access to health care, and guarantee fair elections. In Congress, we expect the new House majority to make a $15 minimum wage, restoring overtime pay, and guaranteeing equal pay early orders of business. And in states from New England to the upper Midwest and the Mountain West, where progressive governors and new legislative majorities were elected, new leadership is looking to replace years of punitive, anti-worker policies, with action to protect workers and improve jobs.

“In Arkansas and Missouri, voters overwhelmingly approved ballot initiatives that will raise pay for nearly one million workers. And in Flagstaff, Arizona, voters fought back an effort to roll back the popularly enacted minimum wage, which is on track to reach $15.00 by 2021 – and guarantees tipped workers the full minimum wage.

Read NELP’s round-up of the election results on worker issues.

“Across the board, voters responded to a progressive agenda that included key worker issues such as expanded health care access, higher minimum wages, and fair elections. That platform propelled a historically diverse group of candidates – including a record number of women – to victory in states from Maine to Utah.

“At the state level, with new governors or legislative leadership in states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Maine and New York, we expect to see new action on working-family issues like the minimum wage, overtime pay, and earned sick days – and on vital democracy reforms.

“Showing bipartisan frustration with our gerrymandered politics, voters turned out in record numbers to demand a greater say in their lives and to make every vote count. In Michigan, Missouri, and Utah, voters approved several measures to strengthen voting rights, create independent redistricting commissions to address gerrymandering, and oppose wealthy donors’ interference in elections. And Florida voters by a wide bipartisan margin backed restoring voting rights for 1.5 million residents with felony convictions. Nearly one in five black Floridians was unable to vote in 2016 due to restrictive voting laws.

“Last night’s results show voters’ resilience and determination in the face of recent attacks on our democracy. Voters have given policymakers a clear mandate to level the playing field. NELP supports a comprehensive workers’ agenda that includes safe workplaces, higher wages, equal pay, addressing the racial wealth gap, abolishing mandatory arbitration, and protecting union rights. Whatever the next two years may bring, NELP will continue in the fight to ensure that working people of all backgrounds get a fair shot in this country.”

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