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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 prosperity depends on jobs that provide a minimum standard of living and improve every Californian’s quality of life. Food, shelter (including affordable housing), clothing, health care, and education are basic human rights. We are committed to safeguarding these rights through strongly supporting public services designed to eliminate poverty, hunger, and homelessness, and to assist seniors and people with disabilities. 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 and strengthen all California communities, California Democrats will:

  • Support a statewide minimum wage of at least $15 per hour, indexed to inflation and cost of living;
  • 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 based on an individual’s qualifications 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 fully funding food stamp programs;
  • Promote expansion of emergency food networks and senior and school meal programs to end chronic hunger;
  • Encourage the use of firms that employ California workers on publicly funded public works construction projects;
  • Pay prevailing wages on government-funded projects;
  • 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;
  • Boycott employers who have permanently replaced 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;
  • Support minimum wage laws that provide livable wages for all workers;
  • Oppose wages set below the minimum wage for workers with disabilities and support fully funding integrated employment programs designed to transition people with disabilities into workplaces that do not segregate people based on disability;
  • Support workers in the face of emerging technology including artificial intelligence and self-driving vehicles;
  • Support the banning of union-busting tactics, including the use of captive audience meetings used by employers to compel employees to attend meetings containing anti-union propaganda, under threat of punitive action.
  • Oppose public spending that leads to poverty wages or exploitative and unfair employment practices;
  • Support public spending that creates good, union jobs, raises standards for contracting out, reduces the misuse of temporary work status, and promotes timely hiring to ensure that workers can provide quality public services;
  • Support the efforts of both academic and non-academic student workers to form unions and negotiate living wages and benefits; and,
  • Ensure that every California worker knows their employment rights, has the support of a union or other worker organization, and is able to participate in a democratic process to raise standards in either their individual workplace or in their industry.
Economic Justice
  • Fight for public assistance programs;
  • Support policies that ensure that the working poor have equitable access to services such as health care, food stamps, and rent subsidies;
  • Support the continuation of programs and services for people transitioning from unemployment or underemployment to financial stability;
  • Support the pursuit of the American Dream and economic security through programs such as government guaranteed jobs programs and universal basic income/rent/housing, the elimination of poverty, and jobs that lead to strong economic standing;
  • Support fully funding California’s mutual aid disaster response capabilities so that state and local fire agencies have the necessary resources to effectively mitigate 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 and encourage community gardens in underrepresented areas; and,
  • Support establishing local banks and credit unions and limit check cashing businesses, pawnshops, or other regressive financial operations.
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 low-income individuals and families;
  • Support the right of students to have quality, affordable housing and accommodations within reasonable distance to their place of study, free from exploitation;
  • Support publicly funded, constructed, and owned housing to mitigate the housing crisis rather than depending solely on private developers to construct new affordable housing including social housing;
  • 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, but require the payment of prevailing wage and the use of a skilled and trained construction workforce and/or project labor agreements for projects granted by-right status;
  • 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;
  • Support tax and zoning policies and taxes on short-term rentals 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 the 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;
  • Support the funding of tenant education “Know Your Rights” programs, legal counsel for tenants, and enforcement of state tenant and housing laws;
  • 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, renoviction, condo conversion, or exemption of rent-controlled and rent-stabilized units and guarantee a Right to Return to any tenants displaced from affordable units due to no-fault evictions;
  • Support policies that ease the ability of cities, counties, or state agencies to purchase rent-controlled or rent-stabilized buildings that are currently exempted to preserve well maintained affordable housing stock;
  • Protect and promote the construction of affordable housing to alleviate and prevent homelessness, and develop supportive housing with continuum-of-care services to help the unhoused reestablish themselves as self-sufficient contributors to society;
  • Support public banking initiatives to help small businesses (including small farmers) and non-profit housing associations such as land trusts and co-operative affordable housing groups obtain low-interest loans and foster reinvestment in infrastructure;
  • Protect existing homeowners’ property rights by limiting eminent domain to reasonable public uses; oppose the abuse of eminent domain to take homes without the consent of the owner and convey property from one private person to another or to any corporation merely to increase tax revenues;
  • Provide a homestead floor with absolute minimum protection for homeowners when they are forced into bankruptcy due to unanticipated health care costs or predatory lending schemes;
  • Require all housing construction receiving public benefit to pay the prevailing construction wage to workers and use a skilled and trained construction workforce and/or project labor agreements;
  • Support the enforcement of laws, such as the duty to affirmatively further fair housing or housing elements, in order to ensure all jurisdictions are doing their part to address the housing needs of their communities;
  • Respect the rights of homeowners and renters to have secure, safe and healthy neighborhoods;
  • Support creation of specially designated encampment areas outside residential neighborhoods, to be used for tiny prefab homes and RV’s, supported by medical, social and mental health services;
  • Support the right of tenants to organize and collectively bargain with their landlord, including having a right of first refusal to purchase when a building is sold and;
  • Support the capture of and access to greater data on housing units by municipalities in their housing stock, such as rent registry and eviction data, so tenants have transparency into what others are paying for similar units and whether landlords have evicted tenants in the past.
AntiHuman Trafficking

California Democrats believe every person is endowed with inalienable human rights, including the right to individual autonomy and to be free from violence and exploitation. California, as one of the most diverse states in the Union, is a magnet for domestic and global labor and sex trafficking. While predominantly affecting girls and women, human trafficking also includes boys and men.

The California Democratic Party is committed to working with state and federal lawmakers to enhance anti-human trafficking efforts that do not criminalize victims and survivors, to provide sex trafficking victims an affirmative defense

against solicitation and related charges, and to provide a procedure for survivors to vacate any such prior convictions so that they can pursue a future livelihood with a clean record. We will also urge lawmakers to budget for direct services to aid such victims and survivors. We support decriminalization of sex acts committed by individuals forced into human trafficking.


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