You may have read about Monday’s visit by State Rep. Dan Winslow (R-Norfolk) to the Unemployment Office in Milford to hear about the challenges facing unemployed workers in the state.
The visit, which Winslow described as “powerful,” was a commendable gesture. It was also part of a strategy to portray the Republican party as far more interested than the Democratic leadership in finding jobs for out-of-work Massachusetts residents.
As Rep. Winslow told the Herald, “Much of our legislative agenda is driven by lobbyists, but somebody’s got to stand up for people who are jobless….There’s no lobbyists for them.”
Sounds great. And if the House Republicans want to take some immediate action to stand up for people who are jobless, some suggestions:
1. Realize that their bill making it harder for unemployed workers to qualify for unemployment insurance is part of the legislative agenda that is, as Rep. Winslow puts it, “driven by lobbyists,” not by people who are jobless and who depend on those benefits as their only safety net.
2. Withdraw their bill to explore the idea of requiring unemployed workers to spend their days volunteering their time for charity. I’d bet that the unemployed fork lift operator Rep. Winslow spoke with who has been living out of his car for the past year would find the suggestion that he’s loafing a little insulting.
3. Rethink their proposal to allow cities and towns to vote to exempt themselves from labor laws, including not only the obligation to pay the prevailing wage on public works jobs but also the one that enforces the minimum wage and overtime laws.
That’s the beauty part of standing up for people who are jobless, Mass. GOP. You don’t need to wait for House leadership to come around. Just rethink a lot of what you’re doing.