Income inequality is the result of intentional policy choices -- we can fix it

We can rewrite the rules to make wage growth a policy priority and bring fairness and balance back in Pennsylvania

Wages for the vast majority of working Pennsylvanians have been stuck for decades.  

That's why even while people are working harder and their productivity is rising, they aren't feeling the recovery.


Most working people feel like they are treading water, even while an ever-increasing share of economic growth goes to corporate profits and executive pay.


This is a solvable problem. The solution to rising income inequality in Pennsylvania is wage growth for working people. 


Since income inequality is created in no small part by policies that allow labor standards, business practices and ideas of fairness to be manipulated in favor of corporations at the expense of their workers, we can rewrite the rules to bring some of that fairness and balance back in Pennsylvania.


That's why House Democrats want to take a new way forward and put you and your family first. We can make wage growth a policy priority in Pennsylvania and, in doing so, boost jobs, our economy and you and your family's financial security.


Boosting wages also helps government work better and more effectively for you. Policies that grow wages generate savings for government. Fewer dollars needed for safety-net and income-support programs make more revenues available for roads and bridges, good schools, clean air and water, and public health and safety.


Raise the Minimum Wage - In 2015, the inflation-adjusted minimum wage was about 25 percent below what it was in 1968 -- even though productivity had doubled and the education and skill levels of most workers was vastly improved. Moving the minimum wage to $12 would benefit 1 out of every 3 workers directly or indirectly, increasing individual and family incomes, boosting local economies, creating jobs, and helping communities thrive.


Update overtime rules - The share of salaried workers eligible for overtime has fallen to just 11 percent today. New rules under President Obama would have provided overtime protections to more than 6 million additional workers, increasing financial security for their families. Spurred by corporate interests, one of President Trump's first actions after he was sworn in was a move to rescind these rules.


Strengthen rules allowing workers to speak up together - The single biggest factor suppressing wage growth for working people over the last few decades has been efforts by corporations and their friends in government to erode the right of workers to speak up together for fair wages, better benefits and a safer workplace. Making it easier for willing workers to look out for each other and reversing the spread of policies designed to help corporations drive down wages would reduce income inequality and help secure the financial security and future of working people and their families.


Allow workers to earn paid sick leave and paid family leave - Pennsylvania has ignored the labor standards that respond to the needs of working parents. Providing earned sick leave and paid family leave would not just to raise the wages of working people, but also give them economic security and reduce stress for them and their families.


End practices that contribute to workplace inequality - Pennsylvania needs to update and consistently enforce of its laws governing hiring, promotion and pay so we can end discrimination based on race, gender and other factors, including sexual orientation. All workers should have access to a fair and transparent processes for ensuring their rights and guaranteeing the same workplace opportunities as their colleagues.


Strengthen enforcement of labor standards - The enforcement of labor standards has become so weak in Pennsylvania that thousands of employers routinely fail to pay minimum wage or overtime, refuse to keep their workers safe, don't pay payroll taxes or workers comp premiums, or don't provide family or medical leave to covered workers. As resources for enforcement agencies have been slashed, workers have suffered while corporations have escaped accountability for irresponsible and illegal workplace practices.


Make education and training a vital part of growing jobs - Pennsylvania should ensure every child has a quality education that prepares him or her for a good career and a successful future, and make sure underemployed workers can access and afford the skills and training they need to fill the good, family sustaining jobs that businesses have to offer.  


Make the tax code fairer - Working families and small businesses pay for nearly 90 percent of the Pennsylvania budget. We need to make the tax system fairer by requiring huge corporations and the wealthy pay their share. When that happens, we can reduce the burden on working people and small businesses and strengthen the middle class.


Wage stagnation stems from intentional policy choices. We can reverse it by making different policy choices. Enacting policies like the ones above will level the playing field so it's more equal, and create a Pennsylvania that works for everyone, not just the corporations and the wealthy few.