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Labor, Economic Justice and Poverty Elimination

California Democrats continue to be close partners with organized labor and strong supporters of workers’ rights.  The ‘glass ceiling’ for people of color and women must be shattered and there must be equal pay for equal or comparable work.  California’s strong workforce is among our nation’s most valuable resources. 

California’s future prosperity will depend upon jobs that ensure a minimum standard of living and that improve the quality of life for all its residents.  Food, shelter (including affordable housing), clothing, health care, and education are among the basic human rights of all individuals.  We are committed to safeguarding these basic human rights through strongly supporting public services designed to eliminate poverty, hunger and homelessness, and to assist seniors and people with disabilities in order to strengthen all California communities. 

All Californians have a right to affordable housing in reasonable proximity to where they work, study, and hold community ties.

To meet the basic economic needs of all Californians, California Democrats will:


  • Support a statewide minimum wage with a path to at least $15 per hour, and then indexed for inflation, and living wages in areas where the increasingly high cost of living and rising inflation renders the basic necessities of life unaffordable;
  • Support creating and maintaining public and private sector jobs that permanently lift the working poor out of poverty to achieve self-sufficiency and a secure retirement; support employer-provided defined benefit pensions as an essential part of retirement security; and, support the establishment of a Federal Interagency Working Group on Reducing Poverty to carry out a national plan to eliminate poverty in America;
  • Encourage employers to “ban the box” and fight to ensure that hiring decisions are made on the basis of an individual’s qualifications for a particular job rather than past convictions and incarceration;
  • Fight for meaningful tax reform that eliminates corporate welfare and achieves a more equitable tax system for working families;
  • Work to guarantee Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) for CalWorks and Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Program (SSI/SSP) recipients in state and federal budgets;
  • Support the full funding of food stamp programs;
  • Promote expansion of emergency food networks and senior and school meal programs to end chronic hunger;
  • Encourage preference for firms that employ California workers whenever public funds are used for public works construction;
  • Pay prevailing wages to protect the economic base of communities where government-funded projects are undertaken and where private developments receive streamlined government approval so that government is not lowering the standard of living;
  • Promote Project Labor Agreements for private and public sector infrastructure projects that provide employment for local hires and returning veterans and that partner with viable state-approved apprenticeship and other training programs for the community;
  • Support the 8-hour workday and daily overtime and fight any efforts to repeal the 40-hour workweek; advocate for paid sick days and vacation days for all workers; and, protect California’s Paid Family Leave law;
  • Work to enhance workers safety programs with adequate and appropriate penalties for unsafe working conditions;
  • Work to expand safety regulations to address workplace violence;
  • Advocate for full rights for workers employed in subcontracted or temporary work; work to end the misclassification of employees; and, work to ensure that companies that subcontract are held to high standards by holding those companies jointly liable with subcontracting firms when workers’ rights are violated;
  • Support collective bargaining and the right to organize; support enforceable organizing agreements that include employer neutrality, recognition of card check, and binding arbitration for first-time contract disputes, particularly when industries request governmental approval and/or taxpayer subsidies to expand;
  • Support “Fair Share” fees which cover the costs of union representation for bargaining and enforcing workers’ contracts with employers;
  • Oppose so called “Right to Work” laws which deny workers the chance to build strong unions;
  • Boycott employers who have permanently replace striking workers;
  • Protect the collective bargaining rights of both public and private sector workers and support binding arbitration for police and firefighters and other workers not allowed to strike;
  • Fight anti-worker initiatives that undermine the ability of union leaders to carry out the will of their members and to engage in political activities;
  • Stand for the right of all workers to earn a living wage and reject wage-based discrimination rooted in an outdated view of disability; and,
  •  Oppose wages set below the minimum wage for workers with disabilities and support full funding for integrated employment programs designed to transition people with disabilities into workplaces that do not segregate people based on disability.

Economic Justice

  • Fight for public assistance programs that allow individuals to support themselves and their families;
  • Support polices that ensure that the working poor have equitable access to services such as health care, food stamps, and rent subsidies;
  • Support polices that allow for continuation of programs and services for people who transition from unemployment or underemployment until financially stable;
  • Support opportunities for all people to pursue the American Dream and live in economic security through support for enacting programs such as a government guaranteed-jobs program and universal basic income/rent or housing to eliminate poverty and improve prospects to secure jobs that lead to strong economic standing;
  • Support full funding for California’s mutual aid disaster response capabilities so that state and local fire agencies have the necessary resources to effectively mitigate the public safety consequences created by climate change;
  • Support the use of technology to enhance working conditions and to improve workplace safety and efficiency; oppose efforts to replace workers with technology;
  • or any other efforts that cause economic instability for working people;
  • Counter “food deserts” by supporting incentives to develop local grocery stores in underrepresented areas; and,
  • Support establishing local banks and credit unions and limiting check cashing stores, pawn shops, or other similar regressive financial businesses.

Affordable Housing

  • Support programs that care for homeless individuals with dignity and respect through direct shelter, job placement, and necessary mental health services; oppose policies that harass and marginalize individuals in need;
  • Support the development of new affordable housing units for families and individuals with low incomes;
  • Support the right of students to have quality, affordable housing and accommodations within reasonable distance to their place of study, free from exploitation;
  • Support exploring publicly funded, constructed, and owned housing to mitigate the housing crisis rather than depending solely on private developers to construct new affordable housing;
  • Support transit-friendly zoning and walkable, bikeable neighborhoods to encourage sustainability, affordability, and accessibility regardless of age, income, or physical limitations;
  • Oppose arbitrary or burdensome conditions placed upon affordable housing construction that is truly affordable for our state’s working families and otherwise conforms to state and local zoning and environmental regulations; demand that such affordable housing be considered a by-right use in any zone that permits residential use;
  • Urge housing policies that provide for mixed-income communities and that do not further exacerbate segregation by class and ethnicity; support inclusionary housing policies and oppose in-lieu development fees that exacerbate income divides, encourage sprawl, and marginalize poorer residents into less desirable areas that frequently have higher pollution levels and other health risks;
  • Encourage tax and zoning policies that discourage speculation on housing and encourage local residency at affordable prices, including the elimination of the mortgage interest deduction on second homes and reasonable restrictions on short-term rentals;
  • Encourage municipalities to provide reasonable accommodations to those forced into mobile residences by high cost of living;
  • Support allowing local communities to create strong tenant and affordability protections without conflict of state law, including requiring affordable housing to be constructed in disadvantaged neighborhoods using neighborhood median income to avoid gentrification, displacement, speculation, undue rent increase, and evictions; and,
  • Work to preserve and protect buildings that are under Rent Control or a Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) to stem the loss of affordable housing units due to demolition, condo conversion, or exemption of rent-controlled and rent-stabilized units from jurisdictions that have rent control or an RSO by opposing policies that allow any city, county, or state agency to circumvent maintaining affordable housing stock by purchasing rent-controlled or rent-stabilized buildings and placing those buildings under exemption.
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