This opinion column was submitted by José Vásquez-Maldonado, Democratic candidate for the 24th Assembly District.
My name is José Vásquez-Maldonado and I am running for the 24th Assembly District to raise awareness of the unhealthy and unsafe conditions of Nevadans’ mandatory long hours of work. These conditions are not only bad for our mental health, but studies have also shown that they can cause long-term health problems. In fact, working at night can exacerbate these health problems, so much so that 40-hour workweeks on night shifts can shorten the life of a worker. Therefore, we must orient our labor laws around human health, as no one should risk their invaluable health for any salary.
Why do I find labor laws so important? Because, as someone from the working class, I know the problems that workers face every day, that our government seems to ignore. For this reason, for the last few years, I have been writing viable political ideas that would benefit the working class. From this, I learned how our state government could improve the lives of the average worker. Here are three policies our government could incorporate to help the average Nevadan.
► First, we could improve workers’ finances. Did you know that paying workers weekly instead of biweekly could improve their lives? For decades, wages remained stagnant as inflation continued to rise and rents soared. So many workers are now living paycheck to paycheck, and too many of them are taking out high-interest payday loans. We could easily remove this poverty trap by requiring large corporations to pay their employees weekly. Since the largest companies are currently making record profitsthere is no excuse for them not to. Therefore, we need to pass a law requiring weekly pay, as companies will not change employee payrolls without our requiring them to. the state of new york he has this on his law booksSo why couldn’t Nevada?
► Second, we could reduce the pain of high gas prices. Did you know that offering ride payment and providing shared rides, multinational companies could help the working class? With gas prices currently hovering above $5 a gallon, a single gallon costs Nevadans more than half the state’s hourly minimum wage, which is currently at $9.75 an hour. Any increase in the price of gasoline reduces the disposable income of low-wage workers. And the costs are even higher for workers who use Uber or Lyft every day because they don’t have a car or access to public transportation. How can someone accumulate wealth when they must spend 25% or more of their monthly salary on going to work?
In addition, we must consider the personal cost of the time it takes for someone to drive to work. Recently, there was a story about a cold-hearted Applebee’s and Taco Bell franchise executive who wrote in a leaked email that high gas prices and inflation are great for your business. Since Americans who work at Walmart or any big company don’t even earn enough money to cover their costs of living, how can we expect them to cover the high costs associated with commuting to work? Fortunately, there is an obvious way to ease your burden. The least the giant companies could do is pay employees half an hour of work to cover their commute. After all, if workers are required to be at a specific location at a specific time, it’s only fair that the employer share the cost of their travel. The employee would only have to worry about paying for transportation home. Fortunately, companies could save money on paying for commutes. For example, they might shorten the employee’s workweek from five to four days, offer to work remotely, or propose a hybrid work model. Since underpaid employees are essential workers, large companies must cover their travel. Without them, our society simply cannot function.
► Finally, businesses with more than 50 employees should offer some type of app-based rideshare or rideshare option to their employees, so that workers who don’t own a vehicle can easily find a ride instead of spending tons of money on Uber rides. Tesla has successfully implemented such a system using the Scoop app, through which the company pays the rideshare driver to pick up a co-worker at no cost to the passenger. To make commuting and ride sharing ubiquitous, we need to pass laws, as most big companies won’t do it out of the goodness of their hearts.
Once again, why are labor laws so important? Because we can improve the lives of the working class. Our current system limits social mobility and salaries do not keep up with inflation. While employees work for their employers, employers seem to have forgotten that employees are not just a cost to them, but an asset. Contradictorily, employees who received benefits are considered lucky. Employers must show compassion and benevolence towards their employees. It is tremendously unfortunate that employers treat working class people like second class citizens. Outside Nevada’s 100 Largest Companies, most pay starvation wages. We can do better. If we cannot imagine a better system than the current one, we have failed as a society. We must stop complying with the current situation that worsens. We must unite in solidarity because we are all workers and deserve better.
José Vásquez-Maldonado is a Democratic candidate for the 24th Assembly District.
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