One of the fastest sectors of job growth in the US is in the green-jobs sector. Michigan is particularly well-suited to take advantage of this fundamental shift in the national economy. Michigan could be a leader in the national movement away from the declining and destructive fossil fuel economy.
Several states are already moving strongly in this direction. Maryland is a great example of what a commitment to green employment looks like. In the Midwest, Illinois and Indiana are also making great strides. We need a comprehensive green-jobs program that will put Michigan to work and establish a truly sustainable economy.
Many of the jobs that have been the basis of the state's economy are disappearing. There is nothing gained by trying to turn back the clock to a bygone era. It is time to prepare Michigan for the jobs of the 21st century. Occupational retraining must be available for every worker who loses a job to outsourcing or automation.
We have the educational infrastructure to make this work. H.R. 220 is one example of how Congress can help Americans get back to work or find better jobs. The legislation leverages the existing community college system nationwide to create accessible occupational training programs for workers. This is the kind of program that really helps people.
A Living Wage
If you work full-time, you deserve a living wage. The debate over a federal minimum wage of $15 doesn't address the real issue. Whether you live in Benton Harbor, Dowagiac, Kalamazoo, Niles, or anywhere else in the district, full-time work must yield an income that covers the necessities of life. This will benefit the entire economy and eliminate the subsidy to corporations that exists when the government has to cover the cost of the necessities of life (through programs like SNAP benefits) for underpaid workers.
End Right-to-Work Laws
Unions have fought and sacrificed throughout US history to bring us the basics the make a working middle-class possible. I can't imagine the plight of the American worker without the contributions of unions. We must protect workers' rights to organize, collectively bargain, and to protect their own safety and well-being.
This is the most difficult question we face as we address the role of labor in the 21st century. I guarantee that I will gather the brightest and best of Michigan and beyond to create innovative and effective solutions for workers and the entire economy.