There is an old adage in politics that folks vote with their pocketbook.
I am not so sure that is as true as it might have been once before, but I still think that most people would prefer to have more money in their pockets rather than less.
This year’s presidential election has been fought on fields that might not be directly related to pocketbook issues, but in the end, after folks think about what they are afraid of when they vote, they next think about what they want.
I practice labor and employment law for a living. It has been my calling for 25 years. So when I consider who is on the ballot, I inevitably think about how my vote will affect me, my family, my business, and my clients. Since almost all of us work, this election is likely to have impacts on each of our work lives.
This is what I have discovered about the presidential candidates and about how they are likely to govern relative to workplace issues.
2021 is going to present unprecedented challenges to the president, whoever it might be. That is because in the beginning of the year we are likely to still be in the midst of a pandemic, albeit hopefully near the end. The federal government to a greater or lesser extent will play a role in helping folks get to the other side of the pandemic.
President Trump has focused his efforts on keeping the economy open and getting kids back to school so parents could get back to work. On the other hand, former Vice President Biden has placed an emphasis on having the government assist with increased testing, across the board mask-wearing, and investment in local governments and boards of education to allow remote learning to continue where needed in order to shut down the spread of the virus.
Moving forward, by mid-2021 there will likely be a hangover from the pandemic with businesses needing governmental assistance to get back on their feet or to adjust to the marketplace. Both candidates have embraced the idea of governmental stimulus to assist businesses in getting back on their feet. How the details are handled remains up in the air although a bipartisan plan similar to the original CARES Act would likely help a huge number of people sooner rather than later.
Vice President Biden has supported a nationwide increase in the minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour. President Trump has not come out in support of an increase and congressional Republicans have consistently voiced opposition to an increase out of concern that such an increase would drive down hours for workers and lead to fewer opportunities.
One result from the pandemic is that the idea of unions have become more attractive to workers. Many workers felt disempowered when it came time to deal with health and safety issues associated with the pandemic. Still, union organizing remains a difficult and daunting process.
Vice President Biden has supported legislation to make organizing easier while President Trump has insisted that no changes are needed to current laws.
Finally, the pandemic has placed a premium on leave availability for workers. The CARES Act was the first piece of federal legislation to mandate paid leave for workers. The idea was popular with workers and it may gain momentum in coming legislative sessions. President Trump approved a measure that took effect this month allowing paid parental leave for federal employees. He has endorsed the idea.