YOUNG WORKERS: Vote Labor in 2024!

Frank Carino, Young Workers Initiative Committee

The American columnist and author Peggy Noonan said of the importance of voting, “Our political leaders will know our priorities only if we tell them, again and again, and if those priorities begin to show up in the polls.” In 2024, several states have made it clear to their legislative bodies that workers’ rights are their priority.

This year, eight states have initiatives that would bolster the rights of workers. Some have already made the ballot, while others are cleared to obtain signatures to be added to their respective ballots.

In Alaska, Missouri, and Nebraska, states traditionally unfriendly to employees, voters are fighting to increase minimum wages and require employers to provide paid sick time. With increases in the cost of living and skyrocketing healthcare, these measures will provide relief to many employees who currently cannot afford to take time off to take care of themselves.

In Arizona, voters are working to repeal their status as a right-to-work state. These states traditionally see workers earn less and have increased instances of rights violations and safety issues. In California they are looking to improve standards in labor enforcement, so that employers are properly punished for violating workers’ rights. In Nevada, proposed legislation would exempt teachers from prohibited striking. This measure would increase their power at the bargaining table.

Massachusetts could potentially be the first state to force rideshare companies, like Uber and Lyft, to recognize drivers’ right to organize and bargain collectively. In Oregon, voters look to pass similar legislation regarding cannabis workers. In addition, the state looks to force all employers to provide just cause for discipline or dismissal, a huge benefit to employees.

It’s only possible to make a difference for families if working people get out and let their voices be heard. It’s not only a right but a privilege to be able to take part in democracy, and I urge every reader of this magazine to exercise that right!