Union leader-turned-lawmaker says new Congress will work for workers
November 9, 2018
The House committee that handles most worker issues will definitely vote in the next Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, a veteran unionist, lawmaker and representative who sits on the committee says.
“As a member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, we’ll have a very different attitude” towards workers and unions than the hostility of the panel’s GOP majority for the last eight years, adds Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J., who for years headed the South Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council.
And he adds that includes not just raising the minimum wage, but also reinstating, through legislation, the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board’s effort to make joint employers – think McDonald’s and its local franchise holders – jointly responsible for obeying, or breaking, labor law. The new Trump-named GOP NLRB majority dumped that idea.
In an exclusive post-election interview with People’s World, the Camden, N.J., resident and Electrical Worker-turned congressman drew on his experience in both D.C. and the New Jersey legislature to make predictions about what the panel will do legislatively when it comes under Democratic control next year. Raising the federal minimum wage heads the list.
“At some point, we’ll raise the minimum wage. It hasn’t been raised in 11 years,” Norcross says. He also expects the panel to pass a bill to reinstate the Obama Labor Department’s expansion of overtime pay eligibility. The GOP Trump DOL scotched expansion.
Besides reinstituting the pro-worker rules, Norcross expects the committee to preserve the Davis-Bacon Act and its guarantees of payment of locally prevailing wages to workers on federally funded construction. Killing Davis-Bacon – and cutting building trades workers’ pay – is a favorite GOP cause. Construction unions have rounded up bipartisan majorities to keep it.