Far too many good-paying, full-time jobs disappeared when Wall Street crashed our economy during the Great Recession of 2009. Unfortunately, these jobs were replaced with part-time, low-wage, no-benefits jobs in the gig economy. In Southern Arizona, the post-recession economic recovery has been slow. Arizona workers deserve better.
We are hurting future generations of Arizonans by forcing young families to live in poverty.
I grew up in a blue collar union family in the rust belt of Northern Ohio. I see the benefits that my family had — full time wages, health insurance, paid vacations, paid sick leave, pensions, food on the table, and a little house that was paid for before I graduated from high school. We had this modest but financially stable lifestyle because my Dad was a proud member of the United Steel Workers.
I believe that Arizona workers deserve a living wage, they deserve the right to organize, they deserve the right to be paid for every hour they work, and they deserve food and housing security. Too many Arizonans have none of this because the Republican Party works for big corporate donors– and not for the people of our state. I also support the Red for Ed movement and the Fight for $15 for the minimum wage ($15/hour) and for adjunct professors ($15,000/class).
Red state Republicans have been chipping away at workers’ rights, health insurance benefits, pensions, unions, workers’ compensation, and public education for years. As the ranking Democrat on the Health Committee and a member of the Banking and Insurance Committee, I fought against bad bills that weakened workers’ compensation, bills that paved the way for risky investments of state pension funds, bills that instituted English-only insurance contracts, and more. I fought for the rights and benefits of workers and patients when we debated full and final workers’ compensation settlements, surprise medical billing, non-binding executive summaries on insurance contracts, classification of certain workers as “not employees”, using $56 million in earmarked federal funds to restore part of the $80 million in childcare subsidies that the Republicans swept, and more.
Arizona has chronically low wages, stingy cash assistance benefits (TANF) for people who need help, no state subsidies for childcare, and high incarceration rates. Too many employed Arizonans are living in poverty or are one medical bill or fender-bender away from it. This has got to stop. It doesn’t do our community, our state, or our country any good to allow people to live in poverty and sickness– while we continue to cut corporate taxes.
Economic development efforts should focus on creating good-paying jobs in a diversified, sustainable economy. I believe that public banking and other economic reforms can help us get there.
I kept my promise to be your voice in the Arizona House. I hope you will vote to send me back to the Arizona House.
For more on labor issues, check out these blog posts.
Video testimony regarding paid sick leave at Tucson City Council Meeting (at about the 30 min mark)
Here is a video from my 2016 campaign.