This opinion column was submitted by Jose Vasquez-Maldonado, a Democratic candidate for Assembly District 24.
My name is Jose Vasquez-Maldonado, and I’m running for Assembly District 24 to raise awareness of the unhealthy and unsafe conditions of long, mandatory work hours for Nevadans. Such conditions are not only bad for our mental health, but studies have shown that they can cause long-term health problems. In fact, night work can actually make these health problems worse 40-hour workweeks on night shifts can shorten the lifespan of a worker. Therefore, we must base our labor laws on human health, because no one should risk their priceless health for any reward.
Why do I think labor laws are so important? Because, as a working class person, I know the problems workers face every day that our government seems to ignore. It is for this reason that in recent years I have written down viable political ideas that would benefit the working class. From this I gained insight into how our state government could improve the life of the average worker. Here are three policies our government could implement to help the average Nevadan.
► First, we could improve workers’ finances. Did you know workers are paid weekly instead of bi-weekly? could improve their lives? For decades, wages stagnated while inflation continued to rise and rents skyrocketed. So many workers are now living paycheck to paycheck, and too many of them are taking out high-interest payday loans. We could easily eliminate this poverty trap by requiring large companies to pay their employees on a weekly basis. Like the biggest companies are is currently making record profits, there is no excuse not to do this. So we need to pass a law mandating weekly wages because companies won’t change their employees’ payslips without our asking them to. The State of New York has this in his law bookswhy couldn’t nevada do that?
► Second, we could ease the pain of high gas prices. Did you know that by offering commuter flat rates and providing ride-sharing opportunities, Could Multinationals Help the Working Class? With gas prices currently above $5 a gallon, a single gallon costs Nevadans more than half the state hourly minimum wage, which is currently at $9.75 per hour. Any increase in the price of gasoline reduces the disposable income of low-wage workers. And the cost is even higher for workers who use Uber or Lyft every day because they don’t have a car or access to public transit. How can someone build wealth when they have to spend 25% or more of their monthly wages commuting to work?
Also, we have to consider the personal cost, which is the time it takes someone to travel to work. There was a recent story about an insensitive Applebee and Taco Bell franchise manager writing this in a leaked email high gas prices and inflation are good for your business. Since Americans who work at Walmart or any other large corporation don’t even make enough money to cover their living expenses, how can we expect them to bear the high costs associated with commuting to work? Thankfully, there’s an obvious way to lessen their burden. The least giant corporations could do is pay their employees half an hour’s work to get to work. After all, when workers need to be in a certain place at a certain time, it is only fair that the employer contributes to the cost of their commute. The employee would only have to worry about paying for the trip home. Fortunately, companies have been able to save money when it comes to reimbursement of travel expenses. For example, they could reduce the employee’s workweek from five to four days, offer them remote work, or propose a hybrid working model. Since low-income earners are essential workers, large companies need to cover their commute. Our society simply cannot function without them.
► Finally, companies with 50+ employees need to offer their employees some sort of app-based ridesharing or ridesharing service so workers who don’t own a vehicle can easily find a ride instead of spending oodles of money on Uber rides. Tesla has successfully implemented such a system with the carpooling app Scoop, where the carpooler is paid by the company to pick up a colleague at no cost to the passenger. To make commuting and ride-sharing ubiquitous, we need to legislate, because most big companies won’t, out of heart, do it.
Again, why are labor laws so important? Because we can improve the lives of the working class. Our current system limits social mobility and wages do not keep pace with inflation. While workers work for their employers, employers seem to have forgotten that workers are not just a cost, but an asset. In contrast, employees who have received benefits are considered happy. Employers must show compassion and goodwill to their employees. It is very unfortunate that the working class is treated as second-class citizens by their employers. From the 100 Largest Companies in Nevada, most pay starvation wages. We can do better. If we can’t think of a better system than the one we have now, then we have failed as a society. We must stop complying with the current, worsening situation. We must unite in solidarity because we are all workers and deserve better.
Jose Vasquez-Maldonado is a Democratic nominee for Assembly District 24.