Dennis Kucinich on Jobs

Democratic Representative (OH-10)


I’m the one candidate who comes from the working class

If we had trade agreements that had workers’ rights in them, that would lift up conditions for workers in this country and all countries. I’m the candidate of workers because I’ve stood for jobs, full employment economy, health care, education for all. A Kucinich administration will means a workers’ White House. Right now wealth is being accelerated upwards. I’m the one candidate in the race who comes right from the working class and can address those needs directly because I remember where I came from
Source: 2007 Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Nevada , Nov 15, 2007

Put unemployed to work rebuilding infrastructure

Edwards would change the minimum wage to “at least $7.50 and hour.” He has a jobs program for the unemployed that sounds limited and vague. He would create a million “stepping stone jobs for workers who take responsibility” -- minimum wage jobs lasting up to twelve months, and in return, “workers must show up and work hard, stay off drugs, not commit any crimes, and pay child support.”

Dennis Kucinich, in contrast, wants to put people without jobs to work rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure--bridges, tunnels, roads--at a time when many politicians in both parties are desiring to sell them off; his program would put people of New Orleans to work rebuilding their own city and its water defenses.

Source: [Xref Edwards] The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 137 , Nov 11, 2007

Require all government agencies to follow ENDA for GLBT jobs

As president of the United States [I would] issue executive orders that will require all federal contractors, anyone who’s doing business with the federal government any way, every federal agency to have to follow the principles that are written in ENDA [the Employment Non-Discrimination Acts, focusing on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation]. Let the federal government be the agent of change that it should be, and then lead the way as president in bringing about the kind of unity that shows that real unity is to respect each other’s inner equality and real unity is to respect the power of human love. The greatest commandment is love, and I think that if someone embodies that and lives it, then things change in a country. Love has that transformative power, and that’s what I have always tried to bring in to public forums, and that’s what I’ll bring into White House as well.
Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues , Aug 9, 2007

Restore right to organize; to collective bargain; to strike

Q: How wold you restore the rights of workers who want to form a union?

A: The right to organize is a basic right in a democratic society. And in a Worker’s White House under a Kucinich administration, the right to organize, the right to collective bargaining, the right to strike, the right to decent wages & benefits, the right to a safe workplace, the right to a secure retirement, the right to participate in a political process--these are all basic rights that will be the hallmark of my presidency

Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum , Aug 8, 2007

Would accept minimum wage as president, reluctantly

Q: If you’re elected to serve as president, would you be willing to do this service for the next four years and be paid the national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour?

A: I live in the same house I purchased in 1971 for $22,500. I think we need to increase the minimum wage and so all my neighbors can get an increase in their wages.

Q: So would you work for it?

A: I would. But I wouldn’t want to.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC , Jul 23, 2007

Works Green Administration: WGA creates green jobs, like WPA

Just like Pres. Roosevelt created a WPA where we built public works all over this country, so I will call forth the capacity of our people to participate in a major environmental effort to not only conserve energy, so that each person participates in wha you could call a cap-and-share approach to protecting our environment but also where we use the productive capacity of government in every area, to have NASA help develop a new technology which can protect our environment, to have the Dept. of Energy shift its focus towards green energy, to have every area of the government involved in environmental consciousness.

A president can do that, & I intend to, with a WGA--a Works Green Administration--which will produce millions of new jobs; retrofitting homes with green building, putting wind & solar, microtechnology; enabling people to save money, reduce the carbon footprint. We can save our planet. We will save our planet, and we’ll do it with leadership and with all of us working together to do that.

Source: Take Back America 2007 Conference , Jun 20, 2007

Cancel tax cuts for the rich

Q: What is job creation plan for young people?

A: First, cancel the Bush tax cuts that went to the people in the top brackets. Second, get the US out of Iraq. Third, cut the Pentagon budget by 15% and put that money into universal pre-kindergarten. Fourth, take the money from the Bush tax cuts that went to the top bracket and put it into a fund to create universal college education. Fifth, get NASA involved in developing new energy technologies, new environmental technologies.

Source: CNN “Rock The Vote” Democratic Debate , Nov 5, 2003

Rebuild infrastructure with a program like FDR’s WPA

On Labor Day, I announced a new initiative, a new initiative which will enable the United States to rebuild its cities in the same way that Franklin Roosevelt rebuilt America during the Depression, called a new WPA-type program, rebuild our cities, our streets, our water systems, our sewer systems, new energy systems. It’s time to rebuild America. We have the resources to do it, we have to have the will to do it.
Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico , Sep 4, 2003

Shift USDA funds from agribusiness to family farmers

Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” , Aug 1, 2003

Labor defends workers when corporations attack

Labor has stood almost alone while corporations have cut wages and benefits, slashed working hours, tried to undermine wage and hour provisions, reneged on contracts, and jettisoned retirements through bankruptcy strategies. There needs to be equal concern for those who created the wealth through their labor because the attacks on unions are a means of redistributing the wealth upwards.
Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” , Aug 1, 2003

Right to a job and to decent wages

Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” , Aug 1, 2003

Labor protections; not binding employer arbitration

In 2001, the US Supreme Court repealed 100 years of labor and civil rights protections and gave employers the right to require mandatory, binding arbitration as a condition of employment. This repeal meant that anyone seeking a job in America could be required to sign away their civil rights, disability rights, sex discrimination protections, pension rights, and whistleblower rights.
Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” , Aug 1, 2003

Genetically-engineered food is an issue of freedom of choice

Genetically engineered food represents a challenge to freedom of choice and freedom of expression. It touches something very deep in all of us that in our striving to consume that we not become less than that which we consume. Country-of-origin labeling will be required.
Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” , Aug 1, 2003

Address plight of small farmer by canceling NAFTA & WTO

Something’s wrong when profits of agribusiness corporations skyrocket, but farmers must find off-farm jobs or sell their farms to survive. The first act of a Kucinich Administration will be to cancel NAFTA and the WTO, replacing them with bilateral trade agreements designed to benefit family farmers and workers while protecting the health of communities and the environment.
Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” , Aug 1, 2003

Break apart monopolistic agribusiness companies

The Kucinich Administration will create new markets by actively enforcing existing anti-trust laws and proposing new laws to force divestiture in concentrated markets, breaking apart monopolistic agribusiness companies and shifting farm economics towards higher commodity prices for farmers.
Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” , Aug 1, 2003

National ban on packer ownership of livestock

The Kucinich Administration will support a national ban on packer ownership of livestock.
Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” , Aug 1, 2003

Farm worker safety by fining employers

The Kucinich Administration will strengthen and enforce air and water quality laws to safeguard rural communities from factory farm pollution. Kucinich will implement new safety standards in meatpacking and food processing. Worker health and safety protections will be expanded through increased inspections and fines, with criminal charges for employers who cause injury or death to agricultural industry workers.
Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” , Aug 1, 2003

Invest in rural America

The Kucinich Administration will initiate a major new program of investment in rural America, putting thousands to work rebuilding invaluable public assets such as schools, hospitals, libraries, swimming pools and parks. Teachers, doctors, veterinarians, and other important service providers will be offered incentives to work in under-served areas.
Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” , Aug 1, 2003

Enshrine workers’ rights in a workers’ White House

As president I’ll make sure that workers’ rights are enshrined in a workers’ White House. Because workers have a right to organize, a right to bargain collectively, a right to strike, a right to compensation if you’re injured on the job. Certainly a right to fair wages and fair benefits.

As president, I’ll issue an executive order which will say that anyone who gets a federal contract will have to provide that when 50 percent of the workers sign up for a union, there’s an automatic union.

Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa , May 17, 2003

Joblessness is a weapon of mass destruction

I ask this administration: “Tell me Mr. Bush, where are those weapons of mass destruction?” I’ve seen those weapons and I’ll tell you where they are. Joblessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. Hopelessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Let’s bring back hope in America. Let’s bring back jobs in America. Let’s bring back workers’ rights in America.
Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa , May 17, 2003

Engrave into stone the rights of working people

The soul of the worker is not for sale. It will not be sacrificed upon the corporate altar, nor annihilated by a hostile or indifferent government. The soul of the worker will be redeemed by the enshrinement in law of workers’ rights. If in 2004 Labor goes up to the mountaintop of our nation’s capital, it must bring back, engraved in stone, the rights of working people:
Source: Speech to Iowa AFL-CIO, in Prayer for America, p.102-3 , Aug 14, 2002

Dennis Kucinich on Voting Record

Give teeth to the National Labor Relations Act

Q: The National Labor Relations Act passed in the 1930s grants uniform collective bargaining rights to all private-sector employees but does not cover public-sector workers. Should it?

A: One of the reasons why you’ve seen union membership dropping in this country is because you haven’t seen that kind of common application of labor law. We have to make sure that all these institutions that have been set up to protect the rights of working men and women actually have teeth.

We have a Department of Labor. It’s seldom that you see the kind of enforcement for workers or workers’ rights. I’m now the chairman of Domestic Policy Subcommittee for the US House. We’re finally going to get into looking at what the NLRB does and how they really work consistently to undermine the rights of workers & unions to try to be heard and to be represented.

We also have to look at OSHA and enforcement like that because there’s a lot of unsafe workplaces where the people are not being held to account in law.

Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada , Feb 21, 2007

Raise minimum wage to over $8.50

Q: What increases, if any, do you favor in the $5.15 an hour federal minimum wage?

A: I favor restoring the value that has been lost to inflation over the past 35 years, which would mean a minimum wage of over $8.50. I favor indexing this to automatically keep pace with the cost of living.

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, “Minimum Wage” , Jan 25, 2004

Repeal portions of Taft-Hartley Act; enhance right to strike

Kucinich introduced HR 5644 to repeal sections of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which allow for Presidential interventions in strikes and lockouts.
Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” , Aug 1, 2003

Voted YES on extending unemployment benefits from 39 weeks to 59 weeks.

Congressional Summary:Revises the formula for Tier-1 amounts a state credits to an applicant's emergency unemployment compensation account. Increases the figures in the formula from 50% to 80% of the total amount of regular compensation ; and from 13 to 20 times the individual's average weekly benefit amount.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:

Rep. CHARLES RANGEL (D, NY-15): The House, for weeks, has attempted to save the free world from a fiscal disaster. We have bailed out the banks and those who held mortgages. At the same time, we provided for energy extensions, we provided tax breaks for those people that tax provisions have expired. We provided for hurricane relief, for mental health. So over $1 trillion is out there for this House to ease the pain of millions of Americans.

While we were dealing with these gigantic powers, we overlooked the fact that over the last 12 months the number of unemployed workers has jumped by over 2 million, leaving 10 million Americans struggling for work. These are hardworking people that have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

Rep. JERRY WELLER (R, IL-11): This important legislation provides additional needed assistance to the long-term unemployed. It's important that we pass this legislation today as our last act before we leave for the election campaign.

This legislation focuses the most additional benefits on workers and States where the unemployment rate is highest and where jobs are hardest to find. This program continues the requirement that those benefiting from extended unemployment benefits had to have worked at least 20 weeks. Americans were rightly concerned about proposals to eliminate that work requirement and allow 39 weeks or, under the legislation before us today, as many as 59 weeks of total unemployment benefits to be paid to those who have previously only worked for a few weeks.

Opponent's argument to vote No:None voiced.

Reference: Unemployment Compensation Extension Act; Bill HR.6867 ; vote number 2008-H683 on Oct 3, 2008

Voted YES on overriding presidential veto of Farm Bill.

OnTheIssues.org Explanation: This bill was vetoed twice! Congress passed an identical bill in May, which Pres. Bush vetoed. Congress then discovered that a clerical error. A replacement bill was passed; then vetoed again by the President; and this is its "final" veto override.

Congressional Summary: Provides for the continuation of agricultural and other programs of the Department of Agriculture through FY2012. Revises agricultural and related programs, including provisions respecting:

  1. commodity programs;
  2. conservation;
  3. trade;
  4. nutrition;
  5. credit;
  6. rural development;
  7. research and related matters;
  8. forestry;
  9. energy;
  10. horticulture and organic agriculture;
  11. livestock;
  12. crop insurance and disaster assistance;
  13. socially disadvantaged and limited resource producers; and
  14. miscellaneous programs.
President's veto message: I am returning herewith without my approval H.R. 6124. The bill that I vetoed on May 21, 2008, H.R. 2419, did not include the title III (trade) provisions that are in this bill. In passing H.R. 6124, the Congress had an opportunity to improve on H.R. 2419 by modifying certain objectionable, onerous, and fiscally imprudent provisions [but did not].

This bill lacks fiscal discipline. It continues subsidies for the wealthy and increases farm bill spending by more than $20 billion, while using budget gimmicks to hide much of the increase. It is inconsistent with our trade objectives of securing greater market access for American farmers. [Hence] I must veto H.R. 6124.

Proponents argument for voting YEA: We had a meeting this morning with the Secretary of Agriculture to talk about implementation. So [despite the two vetoes], the work has been going on within the department of agriculture to get ready for implementation.

This is a good bill. It has wide support in the Congress. It does address all of the issues that have been brought to the Agriculture Committee.

Reference: Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; Bill HR6124 ; vote number 2008-417 on Jun 18, 2008

Voted YES on restricting employer interference in union organizing.

    To enable employees to form & join labor organizations, and to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts. Requires investigation that an employer:
    1. discharged or discriminated against an employee to discourage membership in a labor organization;
    2. threatened to discharge employees in the exercise of guaranteed collective bargaining rights; and
    3. adds to remedies for such violations: back pay plus liquidated damages; and additional civil penalties.

    Proponents support voting YES because:

    The principle at stake here is the freedom that all workers should have to organize for better working conditions & fair wages. There are many employers around the country who honor this freedom. Unfortunately, there are also many employers who do not. These employers attempt to prevent workers from unionizing by using tactics that amount to harassment, if not outright firing. In fact, one in five people who try to organize unions are fired. These tactics are already illegal, but the penalties are so minor, they are not effective deterrents.

    Opponents support voting NO because:

    Democracy itself is placed at risk by this bill. The sanctity of the secret ballot is the backbone of our democratic process. Not one voter signed a card to send us here to Congress. None of us sent our campaign workers out to voters' houses armed with candidate information & a stack of authorization cards. No. We trusted democracy. We trusted the voters to cast their ballots like adults, freely, openly, without intimidation, and we live with the results. But here we are, poised to advance legislation to kill a secret ballot process.

    Let's be clear. Every American has the right to organize. No one is debating that. This is a right we believe in so strongly we have codified it and made it possible for workers to do so through a secret ballot.

    Reference: The Employee Free Choice Act; Bill H R 800 ; vote number 2007-118 on Mar 1, 2007

    Voted YES on increasing minimum wage to $7.25.

    Increase the federal minimum wage to:
    1. $5.85 an hour, beginning on the 60th day after enactment;
    2. $6.55 an hour, beginning 12 months after that 60th day; and
    3. $7.25 an hour, beginning 24 months after that 60th day.

    Proponents support voting YES because:

    We have waited for over 10 years to have a clean vote on the minimum wage for the poorest workers in this country Low-wage workers had their wages frozen in time, from 10 years ago, but when they go to the supermarket, the food prices are higher; when they put gasoline in the car, the gasoline prices are higher; when they pay the utility bills, the utility bills are higher; when their kids get sick, the medical bills are higher. All of those things are higher. They are living in 2007, but in their wages they are living in 1997.

    Opponents support voting NO because:

    This bill is marked more by what is not in the bill than what is in it. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They create two-thirds of our Nation's new jobs, and they represent 98% of the new businesses in the US. What protection does this bill provide them? None whatsoever.

    We can do better. In the interest of sending the President a final measure that provides consideration for small businesses and their workers, the very men and women who are responsible for our economy's recent growth and strength, we must do better.

    Reference: Fair Minimum Wage Act; Bill HR 2 ("First 100 hours") ; vote number 2007-018 on Jan 10, 2007

    Voted NO on end offshore tax havens and promote small business.

    American Jobs Creation Act of 2004: <0l>
  1. Repeal the tax exclusion for extraterritorial income - Permits foreign corporations to revoke elections to be treated as U.S. corporations Business Tax Incentives - Small Business ExpensingTax Relief for Agriculture and Small Manufacturers
  2. Tax Reform and Simplification for United States Businesses
  3. Deduction of State and Local General Sales Taxes
  4. Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform
  5. Provisions to Reduce Tax Avoidance Through Individual and Corporation Expatriation
Reference: Bill sponsored by Bill Rep Thomas [R, CA-22]; Bill H.R.4520 ; vote number 2004-509 on Oct 7, 2004

Voted NO on $167B over 10 years for farm price supports.

Vote to authorize $167 billion over ten years for farm price supports, food aid and rural development. Payments would be made on a countercyclical program, meaning they would increase as prices dropped. Conservation acreage payments would be retained.
Bill HR 2646 ; vote number 2001-371 on Oct 5, 2001

Voted NO on zero-funding OSHA's Ergonomics Rules instead of $4.5B.

Vote to pass a resolution to give no enforcement authority or power to ergonomics rules submitted by the Labor Department during the Clinton Administration. These rules would force businesses to take steps to prevent work-related repetitive stress disorders.
Reference: Sponsored by Nickles, R-OK; Bill S J Res 6 ; vote number 2001-33 on Mar 7, 2001

Require full disclosure of outsourced employees.

Kucinich co-sponsored requiring full disclosure of outsourced employees

OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Transparency and Responsibility for US Trade Health Act (TRUTH Act): Requires a US national that employs individuals in a foreign country, either directly or through subsidiaries, to take necessary steps to provide transparency and public disclosure in all its operations.