VTDIGGER by Jasper Craven
Members and allies of the advocacy group Rights & Democracy convened at the Statehouse on Wednesday to praise the Legislature’s passage of paid family sick leave legislation and demand that more be done to raise living standards for working people.
Pointing to Bernie Sanders’ blowout win in last week’s Vermont presidential primary, advocates argued that residents in every town across the state were overwhelmingly supportive of bold new programs.
“The tide is turning. The people of Vermont are saying it is time for a bold progressive agenda for working families,” said Mari Cordes, a nurse and adviser to the group.
“As Bernie has said from the beginning of his campaign, to make change, the political revolution must be bigger than a presidential campaign — it must happen at every level and in our communities.”
With paid sick leave out of the way, the group launched “Raise Up Vermont,” a campaign focused on three goals: a $15 minimum wage, paid family and medical leave, and legal reforms to prevent employers from misclassifying workers as independent contractors.
James Haslam, executive director of Rights & Democracy, said advocates would push these reforms hard, but he acknowledged there is little time to make headway at this stage in the current legislative session.
The group will host a series of gubernatorial panels in Bennington and Middlebury in the coming months focused on its top issues in an effort to influence the focus of the race. [See April 9 panel details: http://www.radvt.org/apr9 ]