Raising the Minimum Wage

Anyone working forty hours a week should not be living in poverty. The minimum wage was designed to increase as the economy grew and worker productivity increased. Despite continued economic growth and increases in worker productivity, the federal minimum wage has not been raised in over a decade — the longest period of time without an increase since it was enacted in 1938. If the minimum wage had increased at the rate of productivity since 1960, it would be over $23 right now. A $7.25 minimum wage is embarrassingly low, and 86% of college students believe we must keep pushing for a minimum wage that is a living wage.

Abolish the Tipped Wage

Many young people rely on tips in their first jobs. Forcing people to rely on a tipped wage is an unfair labor practice to begin with. How can we expect young people, who don’t have years of savings to fall back on, to financially plan for big life expenses if they don’t know how much money they’re going to make at tomorrow’s shift? No one can afford a day of work where they may only take home $2.13 an hour (the federal minimum wage for tipped workers). We must consider joining many other countries including Switzerland, France, and Germany in ending the tipped minimum wage so workers’ take-home pay is the duty of the employer to provide, not the customer. 

Pay Your Interns

Experience is not going to pay the bills. Unpaid internships exploit young people and prevent working-class students from gaining valuable experience. If an internship is unpaid, students may not be able to afford to sacrifice time they could use getting paid at a job, leaving only privileged and already wealthy students in internships and high-paying entry-level jobs. Pay Our Interns says it best: We must be “committed to ensuring all people — especially people of color and of low-income backgrounds — have equitable access to professional career paths through the implementation of paid internships across all work sectors.”

Increasing Unionization

As the middle class continues to shrink, unions are one of Gen Z’s best paths to the middle class. Unionized workers earn about 20% more than non-unionized workers and also receive increased benefits. Unions also help reduce wage inequality, benefiting working-class people, blue-collar workers, and workers who do not have a college degree. As the costs of items like healthcare and education increase, we must utilize the power of collective bargaining to increase wages and benefits to ensure Gen Z enjoys an equal or better quality of life than those that came before them.

Paid Family, Sick, and Medical Leave

How does the richest country in the world not have paid family and medical leave? With the costs of starting a family increasing, we must ensure parents can fully spend time with and take care of their baby instead of having to worry about money and medical care. Those who require medical leave for other reasons must have time to take care of themselves or others without having to worry about making ends meet. It is time for the United States to join the rest of the developed world and enact a robust paid family and medical leave policy.

A Federal Jobs Guarantee

TA federal jobs guarantee would create a baseline standard for employment in the United States and allow us to dedicate major labor power to public service priorities like infrastructure, caregiving for seniors, child care, community development, and environmental conservation. These jobs would include a livable wage, full healthcare, and family and medical leave for all. Access to good benefits in the public sector would incentivize the private sector to offer competitive compensation and benefits to retain their employees. Where necessary, these jobs would also offer training and experience to workers.

The Right to Housing

Every American deserves shelter. It is incomprehensible that while roughly 600,000 are unhoused, more than 15,000,000 homes in the US are vacant. As wages have stagnated and the cost of living has increased, we must ensure that housing is affordable to all, especially young people. Homeownership is largely considered one of the best ways to generate wealth, and if Gen Z can never afford to buy a home, they will struggle to live an equivalent standard of living to their parents and grandparents. 

Ending Food Insecurity

No one should go to bed at night hungry or wake up in the morning wondering where they will find their next meal. How can you expect someone to work hard, focus in school, and succeed when all they can think about is how they are going to feed themselves and their families? We have the power to put an end to food insecurity and reduce barriers to nutritional assistance. This includes having fewer restrictions so those with medical diets can have the food that they need. Nutritional assistance benefits should be strengthened to ensure access to nutritious food options.

A Secure Retirement in our Future

Young people need to start thinking about retirement. With the high costs of healthcare, education, and housing, it is becoming increasingly difficult for young people to put money aside and save for retirement. We need to make sure that our government is enacting policies to allow people to retire without working themselves to death. To ensure that everyone can retire with dignity and respect at a reasonable age, we must expand Social Security and Medicare. 

Ending Childhood Poverty

No child deserves to be living in poverty. No one has control over the socioeconomic status they are born into. A child’s education, health, and future should not be determined by anything out of their control. Our government needs to make a major commitment to ensuring all children, no matter their background, have access to all the tools they need to have a bright future.

A Just Tax Code

It is unacceptable that there are corporate CEOs in this country who pay an effective tax rate that is lower than teachers or construction workers. It has become normalized in the United States that major corporations can routinely pay nothing in federal income taxes. At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, we need a tax system that is based on the ability to pay. If we want to create a more economically just country and rebuild the middle class, we have to demand that the wealthiest Americans, large corporations, and Wall Street pay their fair share in taxes.

Broadband for All

Participation in our 21st-century society requires quality internet. Whether it is looking for a job, doing a job, paying the bills, or completing an education, those who do not have access to the Internet are at a significant disadvantage. Something that has become such a necessity in everyday life should not depend on your zip code or your income.

If you’re interested in reading more, you can download the full Voters of Tomorrow Policy Platform.

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