By: Cathy Kunkel, Candidate for Congress, 2nd Congressional District Posted: February 27, 2020 | 11:19PM EST
West Virginians deserve leadership in D.C. that is fighting for working people and small businesses, not out-of-state corporate interests. That’s why I’m running for Congress in the 2nd Congressional district.
Since the 1970s, income inequality in America has spiraled out of control. For the last 40 years, the average American hasn’t seen a raise; even though we have become more productive at work, most of those productivity gains have gone to the 1%. Today just three families in our country control more wealth than 160 million Americans. The top eight health insurance CEOs made $144 million in 2018 while millions of Americans struggle to afford healthcare.
Here in West Virginia, nearly 25% of our workforce is employed in jobs making $24,000 a year or less. And since 2008, job growth has been concentrated in low-wage work, including childcare, retail and food service. The result is that more and more of us struggle to get by: working multiple jobs, struggling to afford housing, transportation and childcare.
The only way in which workers have won gains in wages and working conditions in the past is by coming together to fight for them. In the 1910s and 1920s, West Virginia coal miners and their families struggled and died for the right to organize in the face of oppressive coal industry rule. In the 1930s, workers nationally won the 8-hour work day, overtime pay, and a federal minimum wage after decades of labor organizing, as well as forcing the federal government to pass other New Deal programs like Social Security. Just in the last two years, teachers and school employees across the country – inspired by West Virginians – have won raises and increased funding for public education.
Because of the power that working people have when we fight together, the bosses and moneyed interests have always tried to stop workers from organizing, intimidating workers and making it harder to form unions. For the last 40 years, the bosses have been winning the fight. Union membership has been declining, wages have been flat for 40 years, and working conditions are getting worse in many industries — including the resurgence of black lung disease among younger coal miners.
We can turn this around. In Congress, I pledge to stand with working people and fight for basic economic rights, including healthcare for all, affordable housing and dignified retirement. I will support raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, which would improve the lives of more than 75,000 workers across this Congressional district. And I will fight to strengthen our union movement, by supporting a federal ban on so-called “right to work” laws and by imposing financial penalties on employers that illegally retaliate against workers trying to organize.
Our democracy can never function well when wealth and power are concentrated in the hands of a few, when just a handful of individuals control more wealth than half of the population. If we want a vibrant democracy, instead of one bought and paid for by special interests, we need to reverse the trend of the last four decades towards ever-increasing economic concentration. I will fight to close corporate tax loopholes, implement a wealth tax on the top 0.14% of households, and reinstate anti-monopoly laws that protect small businesses.
Read more about my campaign’s vision of an economy that works for all of us at: KunkelForCongress.com