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2016 Presidential Debate: Let’s Hope They Address These Workplace Issues


Without getting into too much detail, I feel confident we can all agree that this election cycle has been one of the most bizarre public experiences in our lifetime. The strangeness of this election comes in part from the realities of running for office in the era of Twitter insults and reality-TV appropriate nicknames. Make no mistake, however: buried in the spectacle are real problems and decisions that will affect the American people for the next four years, including these hot-button workplace issues.

2016 presidential debate
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Paid Family Leave

Currently, the United States is the only industrialized nation without paid family leave. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, companies with 50 or more workers must provide 12 weeks of protected leave for an employee to take care of a newborn, among other reasons. And while having 12 weeks off work with job security is nice, the regulations don’t require your employer to pay you during this time. The only exception to this are a couple of states where paid family leave is through employee-paid taxes. And, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 13 percent of employees work for an employer who opts to pay them during family leave.

CLINTON: Hillary Clinton’s plan is significantly more expansive than Trump’s, calling for 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or a sick family member, and up to 12 weeks paid medical leave. Under her plan, workers would receive at least two-thirds of their current wages. Clinton says she will pay for this with tax reforms, ensuring that the wealthiest of Americans end up paying their fair share. Her plan also covers paid leave for both men and women, as well as children born through surrogacy or through adoption, according to The Washington Post.

TRUMP: Donald Trump, with the help of his daughter Ivanka, presented his plan to address paid family medical leave. With his plan, families who have at least one stay-at-home parent would be allowed to deduct the average cost of child care from their taxes. He wants to create dependent care savings accounts while guaranteeing six weeks of paid maternity leave. Trump’s plan only covers mothers, and he has yet to fully explain how he’ll pay for it.

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Federal Minimum Wage

The debate to raise the minimum wage has been going on for a few years now. In 2015, President Obama argued at his State of the Union address that the U.S. needed to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour over the next three years. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and was last updated in 2009.

CLINTON: Clinton, like Trump, has been accused of having different positions on minimum wage. While she has been known to even use the #fightfor15 hashtag, her campaign website continues to point to a demand for a $12 minimum wage, not $15. “I have supported the fight for 15. I am proud to have the endorsement of most of the unions that have led the fight for 15. I was proud to stand on the stage with Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo, with (Service Employees International Union) and others who have been leading this battle, and I will work as hard as I can to raise the minimum wage. I always have. I supported that when I was in the Senate,” Clinton said.

TRUMP: Donald Trump has multiple opinions regarding minimum wage. According to Politifact, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe in 2015, he told Mika Brzezinski that he wouldn’t endorse a higher minimum wage. Fast-forward to May 8, 2016 where Trump told Chuck Todd on Meet The Press that the minimum wage was too low. According to Trump himself, “I don’t know how people make it on $7.25 an hour. Now, with that being said, I would like to see an increase of some magnitude. But I’d rather leave it to the states. Let the states decide. … I think people should get more. …I don’t know how you live on $7.25 an hour.” In short, it’s not clear whether or not Donald Trump supports raising the minimum wage, and by how much.

Overtime Pay

Now days, when you hear the term “overtime pay,” you probably think of the FLSA rules change announce by the Obama administration this year. The ruling goes into effect on Dec. 1 and mandates that Americans earning less than $47,476 per year who work more than 40 hours a week get paid time and a half for their labor.

CLINTON: Because Clinton was part of the administration that helped bring this ruling into action it’s not a surprise that she supports the ruling. She considers it a win for the economy, and for workers worldwide. “No one who works 40 hours a week should have to raise a family in poverty,” she said. “No one should have their fundamental rights to organize and bargain collectively stripped away by Republicans and their corporate allies.”

TRUMP: When the FLSA overtime ruling was announced, Trump didn’t have much to say. And while other lovely Republicans like Paul Ryan have called it an “absolute disaster,” Trump’s reaction was slightly different. In Trump’s plan, small businesses would be exempt from the FSLA overtime ruling. Trump elaborated by saying, “We have to address the issues of over-taxation and over-regulation and the lack of access to credit markets to get our small business owners thriving again,” Trump said. “Rolling back the overtime regulation is just one example of the many regulations that need to be addressed to do that. We would love to see a delay or a carve-out of sorts for our small business owners.”

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