Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown called for a $15 federal minimum wage Friday during a speech at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio Friday.
“First we need to raise pay and benefits for all workers. It means raising the federal minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour so that everyone who puts in the time earns a living wage,” the senator, who is up for re-election in 2018, said during his speech.
Brown unveiled a 77-page document titled “Working hard for too little: A Plan for Restoring the Value of Work in America.”
The senator criticized the unemployment figures, explaining that it doesn’t capture the extent of the problem. “The unemployment rate is one thing, but whether workers have jobs that pay a decent wage and provides security to them and their families is another thing,” Brown said. (RELATED: First Jobs Report Under Trump Admin: 227K Jobs Added)
“The unemployment rate certainly doesn’t reflect the frustration, doesn’t reflect the worry, the anger, the pain that workers have,” Brown asserted.
Brown listed overtime pay, paid sick leave and paid family leave as ways to fix the fact that “too many workers are living one emergency away from catastrophe.”
Brown recalled his meeting with former Vice President Joe Biden and Obama’s Secretary of Labor Tom Perez a year ago to announce the president’s overtime rule, which was blocked by a federal judge from going into effect this past November. (RELATED: Judge Blocks Obama’s Overtime Rule)
The senator took a shot at the “gig economy,” saying that while “app-based companies may have invented new ways for consumers to buy services or products, they haven’t discovered new employer-employee relations.”
“We need to update our economic policies, our retirement policies, our labor laws to reflect today’s economy,” Brown said.
“Decades of trade agreements that put corporate profits over American workers are in fact a major part of the problem,” the senator said. “I’ve been fighting for a fairer trade agenda since I cast a vote against NAFTA my first year in Congress,” he continued.
Brown noted his agreement with Trump on trade, saying that he hopes to work with the president, “to renegotiate NAFTA and to build a trade agenda that puts workers first.”
The senator warned that trade agreements, no matter how well-negotiated, cannot alone sustain the growth in the American middle class that is necessary. The Senator blasted “trickle down economics,” asserting that its been discredited time and time again.
Brown faces Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel in his 2018 re-election bid to represent the Buckeye state in the Senate. Mandel lost to Brown in 2012 by six points, but Trump’s victory in 2016 gives Mandel reason to believe that his 2018 prospects are much brighter.
The Mandel campaign ripped Brown for proposing a $15 minimum wage, saying that it would be a job killer. “If anything, it will increase unemployment by pricing out entry level jobs,” Erica Nurnberg, a spokesperson for Mandel, told the Dayton Daily Friday.
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