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Press Release - On "Road To One America" Tour, Edwards Unveils New Initiatives To Reward Work

July 16, 2007

Canton, Mississippi – On the first day of Senator John Edwards' three-day "Road to One America" tour, Edwards unveiled new initiatives to respect and reward low-wage workers. The initiatives include protecting workers from routine abuses of minimum wage, overtime, and safety laws through a new taskforce and guaranteeing sick leave so workers who are sick or need to take their child to the emergency room will not lose their job. Today's new initiatives build on Edwards' past efforts to create opportunities for rewarding work, including a higher minimum wage, tax cuts for low-income families, stronger unions, and stepping-stone jobs for willing workers unable to find jobs on their own.

"Past anti-poverty efforts have failed to create enough opportunities for people to work their way out of poverty and into the middle class," Edwards said. "We will never end poverty until we create more opportunities for people to earn enough to support themselves and their families. We need to put our economy back in line with our values by making it possible to work hard and build a better life."

In Canton, Edwards is meeting with poultry workers who are poorly paid and often lack health benefits. He will also meet with home health workers in West Helena, Arkansas later in the day. Edwards believes anyone who works hard should have the chance to get ahead. Today though, many industries routinely break basic labor laws. To help protect workers, Edwards will revive the Department of Labor and create a new taskforce to target the industries with the worst abuses of minimum wage and overtime laws. He will also stop the misclassifying of employees as independent contractors, and make workplaces safer by boosting funding for OSHA inspectors and extending OSHA protections to all workers.

Edwards also believes we need to make sure workers can take care of their families and themselves. Nearly half of all private-sector workers, and nearly 80 percent of low-wage workers, must forgo pay to miss even a single day due to illness or caregiving. As president, Edwards will make sure that all workers have at least seven paid sick days a year.

These new initiatives are part of Edwards' agenda to reward work with a higher minimum wage, stronger unions, new protections for home health workers, universal health care, Stepping Stone jobs and smart trade policies that work for workers as well as corporations.

Edwards has continuously fought for fairness for workers. Over the past years, he joined with grassroots coalitions to pass minimum wage increases in six states in 2006. He has also traveled the country helping more than 20 national unions organize thousands of workers into unions.

For more details on Edwards' plan to reward work, please click here for the fact sheet.

John Edwards, Press Release - On "Road To One America" Tour, Edwards Unveils New Initiatives To Reward Work Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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