Democratic Senators Take the Lead in Advocating for Workers’ Safety in the Workplace

By Yuqi Wang, Policy Analyst, Economic Policy Project, UnidosUS

Every worker deserves to be safe in their workplace and to know that their well-being is a priority for their employers. Unfortunately, that is not always a reality—in 2015, the AFL-CIO found that 4,386 U.S. workers were killed on the job. That year, a staggering 903 Latinos had a workplace-related fatality, the highest number of Latino deaths in 10 years. This means that about 2.5 Latinos die just trying to make a living each day.

A national poll recently released by UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza) found that safe working conditions and protections intended to promote workers’ safety and well-being are lacking for many low-income Latino workers:

  • One in five low-income workers (20 percent) reported that going to work sick or delaying a medical appointment is a problem they have experienced in the workplace.
  • More than one-quarter of low-wage Latino workers (28 percent) received no orientation at their jobs.
  • More than one-third (34 percent) of low-wage earning respondents received no training about workplace rights or safety.
  • When low-income Latino workers try to speak up about their concerns or dissatisfaction with their working conditions, they report experiencing employer retaliation. Nearly one in two workers have said they or someone they know have been treated differently or punished for raising workplace problems.

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Congress: Don’t Turn Your Back on Workers Struggling to Save for Retirement

By Yuqi Wang, Policy Analyst, Economic Policy Project, NCLR

Social Security is widely recognized as playing an important role in workers’ retirement security. In 2015 alone, Social Security benefits kept 22 million retirees out of poverty, and more than 60% of elderly beneficiaries relied on Social Security for most of their retirement cash income.

To celebrate National Social Security Month this April, the Social Security Administration created an online guide that workers can use to learn more about the program and its benefits.

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How States Are Planning to Fix the Country’s Retirement Crisis

By Yuqi Wang, Economic Policy Analyst, NCLR

Photo: www.aag.com, http://ow.ly/IYcvj

A secure retirement is a right of all workers, yet 45 percent of working-age households in the U.S. do not have either an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k), or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). For Latinos, the data paints a starker picture: 60 percent of Latino workers do not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, which is among the most effective ways for people to save for retirement.

Having states provide auto-enroll IRAs to private sector workers who don’t have access to such benefits through their workplaces and who tend to be lower-income is one effective solution. State-based retirement plans benefit employees of small businesses where 50 percent of employers don’t offer retirement plans. It also allows employers to provide IRAs to employees without requiring the employer to sponsor or contribute to the IRAs. Workers who participate are automatically opted in to a retirement savings account that takes out a predetermined amount from monthly paychecks and saves it in the IRA. Workers also have the option to opt-out at any time. Several states already passed legislation enacting these plans (e.g. California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, and Oregon), with 27 more states considering this or other program variants.

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Supreme Court Declines to Take Appeal on Home Care Rule; True Victory for Home Care Workers

CAG Homecare worker2The Supreme Court has ended the legal battle against the recently won rights of home care workers to critical overtime and minimum wage benefits.

On Monday, the high court decided not to hear an appeal from several home care industry groups that argued the Department of Labor (DOL)’s expansion of minimum wage and overtime benefits to home care workers was an illegal and unjustified change to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The court’s decision not to hear the case is a victory for home care workers, and an end to the court case Home Care Association of America v. Weil, which sought to take away minimum wage and overtime rights from home care workers.

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New DOL Regulation Will Help Savers Protect Themselves

Senior woman cookingIf you are saving for retirement or plan to do so in the future, a new regulation will help protect your hard-earned savings!

On Wednesday, the Department of Labor updated the definition of retirement investment advice and closed loopholes that permit some retirement investors to steer clients into investment products that aren’t in their best interest. Now, anyone offering individualized retirement investment advice must act under a fiduciary standard, meaning they must provide impartial advice in their client’s best interest. It is good news for Latinos and other small savers, as they are least able to absorb the shock of increased fees and decreased returns often seen with conflicted retirement investment advice.

Many Americans struggle to save enough for retirement. Latinos have the smallest retirement account balances of any group and often lack access to employer-sponsored retirement savings plans. They are also much younger than the general population, and as more enter the workforce—expected to comprise 18.6% of the labor force by 2020—it is essential that the retirement savings environment ensures the security of their nest egg and minimizes retirement account losses due to high fees and low returns on investments.

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