This opinion column was submitted by Jose Vasquez-Maldonado, Democratic candidate for Assembly District 24.
My name is Jose Vasquez-Maldonado and I am running for Assembly District 24 to raise awareness of the unhealthy and unsafe conditions of forced long work hours for Nevadans. Not only are these conditions bad for our mental health, but studies have also shown that they can cause long-term health issues. Indeed, night work can exacerbate these health problems, to such an extent that 40 hour work weeks on night shifts can shorten the life of a worker. Thus, we must orient our labor laws around human health, because no one should risk their priceless health at any wage.
Why do I find labor laws so important? Because, as a member of the working class, I know the problems that workers face on a daily basis, which our government seems to ignore. For this reason, over the past few years I have written workable political ideas that would benefit the working class. From there, I got a glimpse of how our state government could improve the lives of the average worker. Here are three policies our government could adopt to help average Nevada.
► First, we could improve workers’ finances. Did you know that paying workers weekly rather than bi-weekly could improve their lives? For decades, wages have remained stagnant as inflation kept rising and rents soared. So many workers are now living paycheck to paycheck, and too many are taking out high-interest payday loans. We could easily eliminate this poverty trap by forcing large corporations to pay their employees weekly. As the biggest companies are currently making record profits, there’s no excuse for them not to. Therefore, we need to pass a law requiring a weekly wage, because companies will not change employee payrolls without us asking them. New York State has this in his law booksso why couldn’t Nevada?
► Second, we could lessen the pain of high gas prices. Did you know that by offering remuneration for the home-work journey and by offering carpooling, multinationals could help the working class? With gasoline prices currently hovering above $5 a gallon, a single gallon is costing Nevadans more than half the state’s minimum hourly wage, which currently sits at $9.75 per 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 daily because they don’t have a car or access to public transportation. How can someone build wealth when they have to spend 25% or more of their monthly salary to get to work?
In addition, there is the personal cost of the time it takes to drive to work. Recently there was a story about an unresponsive Applebee’s and Taco Bell franchise executive who wrote in a leaked email that high gas prices and inflation are good for their business. As Americans who work at Walmart or any large corporation do not even earn enough money to cover their living expenses, how can we expect them to cover the high costs associated with commuting- work ? Fortunately, there is an obvious way to ease their burden. The least the corporate giants could do is pay employees half an hour’s work to cover their commute. After all, if workers have to be at a specific location at a specific time, it’s only fair for the employer to share the cost of their journey. The employee would only have to worry about paying for transportation home. Fortunately, companies could save money on travel expenses. For example, they could shorten the employee’s work week by five to four days, offer to work remotely, or offer a hybrid work model. Since low-wage employees are essential workers, large companies must cover their travel. Without them, our society simply cannot function.
► Finally, companies with more than 50 employees should offer their employees some sort of app-based carpooling or carpooling option, so that workers who do not own a vehicle can easily find a ride instead of spending money. tons of money in Uber rides. Tesla has successfully implemented such a system using the carpooling app Scoop, through which the carpool driver is paid by the company to pick up a colleague at no cost to the passenger. To make commuting and carpooling ubiquitous, we need to pass legislation, because most big companies won’t do it willingly.
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 assets. Contradictorily, employees who have benefited from benefits are considered lucky. Employers must show compassion and kindness to their employees. It is extremely unfortunate that the working class is treated as second class citizens by their employers. Out of Nevada’s 100 Largest Companies, most pay poverty wages. We can do better. If we can’t imagine a better system than the current one, we have failed as a society. We need to stop conforming to the current worsening situation. We must stand together because we are all workers and we deserve better.
Jose Vasquez-Maldonado is a Democratic candidate for Assembly District 24.
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