- PositionMinnesota Senator
The presidential campaign for Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) answered questions sent by Fortune and Time’s Up via email. The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity.
Fortune/Time’s Up: Do you believe that the United States should have comprehensive paid family and medical leave and, if so, what is your proposal to make it happen?
Klobuchar campaign: Sen. Klobuchar supports providing paid sick days and paid family and medical leave at the federal level. The United States is the only industrialized nation without a national paid leave program, and only 19% of American workers have access to paid family leave through their employer. In the Senate, Sen. Klobuchar has been a strong supporter of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act. As President she will work with Congress to create a national paid family leave program to provide workers with 12 weeks of paid leave per year to care for a new child, a family member with a serious health condition, or their own serious health condition. The program would replace up to two-thirds of income and will include protections to maintain eligibility for part-time workers, people working at small businesses, and self-employed workers.
How will you ensure that families who need it have access to safe, affordable childcare?
Sen. Klobuchar believes that early, quality childcare and education is one of the most important public investments we can make as a country. In the Senate, Sen. Klobuchar has been a strong supporter of Sen. Patty Murray’s Child Care for Working Families Act. She also leads bipartisan legislation, the Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act, to address the shortage of childcare providers by investing in workforce training and childcare facilities. As President, Sen. Klobuchar will work with Congress to make childcare more affordable by capping spending on childcare at 7% of income for families making up to 150% of their state’s median income through a new federal-state partnership. As part of the federal-state partnership, Sen. Klobuchar will require caregivers and early childhood teachers to be paid a living wage that is comparable to what elementary school teachers with similar credentials earn. She will also support access to quality preschool by working with states on programs for 3- and 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. At the same time, Sen. Klobuchar will increase the matching rate for providers caring for infants and toddlers. In addition, she will work to increase the availability of childcare through competitive grants to states to support the training and retention of childcare workers and to building, renovating, or expanding childcare facilities in areas with childcare shortages. The grants will include incentives to provide childcare during nontraditional work hours and to allow childcare workers to obtain portable, stackable credentials to advance their careers.
Do you think institutions—from Congress to Fortune 500 companies—have done enough to address sexual harassment? What have you done, and what will you do, to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace?
Sexual harassment is not just about the cases of the rich and famous in the headlines, but also the line workers, the nurses, and the teachers. Sen. Klobuchar is deeply committed to doing more to ensure all Americans can work in workplaces free from harassment. In 2018, she successfully led major bipartisan legislation that changed the way harassment claims are handled in Congress. Now a victim can immediately pursue an administrative hearing or file a civil action, and members of Congress can be personally liable to pay for awards and settlements. During her time in the Senate, Sen. Klobuchar has advocated for Sen. Murray’s BE HEARD in the Workplace Act, which is a comprehensive approach to addressing workplace sexual harassment and assault by promoting transparency and accountability, strengthening legal remedies, and making sure all workers are protected. And she has pushed for additional legislation to address sexual harassment in the workplace such as Sen. Kamala Harris’s Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act that addresses sexual harassment and gender harassment in STEM fields. As President, she will work with Congress to pass this important legislation and prioritize preventing and addressing sexual harassment in the workplace.
Women in the U.S. earn 80 cents on white men’s dollar in wages, a gap that gets even wider for black women, Latinas, and Native American women. What is your plan to work with employers to close the pay and opportunity gap for women, including women of color, LGBTQ women, and working mothers?
Sen. Klobuchar believes this is wrong and that all Americans deserve equal pay for equal work. In the Senate, she is a co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which ensures that employers pay women and men equally for equal work. As President, she will make passing this bill a priority, and she will take action to stop the Trump administration’s efforts to block rules that require large companies to disclose what they pay employees by sex, race, and ethnicity in an effort to prevent pay discrimination. Sen. Klobuchar also supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which will particularly help women and people of color, who are more likely to be in jobs paying less than that rate.
Sen. Klobuchar supports better data collection to uncover pay discrimination and stronger penalities to hold employers accountable. As President, she will make passing the Paycheck Fairness Act a priority and direct federal agencies to aggressively enforce the law. Sen. Klobuchar supports provisions in the Paycheck Fairness Act that would require the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to collect data on compensation broken down by demographic categories and give the Department of Labor additional authority to investigate pay discrimination. It would also allow victims of pay discrimination to recover compensatory and punitive damages in addition to back pay.
In addition, Sen. Klobuchar is committed to increasing economic opportunities for women. As cochair of the Diversify Tech Caucus and Women’s High Tech Coalition, Sen. Klobuchar has been a leader in expanding STEM education for women and underrepresented minorities.
Do you support policies that require corporations to have women and other underrepresented groups on corporate boards? Why or why not?
Sen. Klobuchar is open to considering requirements for corporate board memberships and other ways we can ensure full equality in the workplace. She has seen firsthand the positive impact of more women in the Senate and knows that all workplaces would benefit from more women and underrepresented groups in positions of leadership.
Would you—and how would you—propose to strengthen protection for people who need accommodations to do their jobs while pregnant or who are discriminated against because of their pregnancies at work?
Sen. Klobuchar is committed to improving workplace protections for pregnant women. As President, she will fully enforce laws like the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which bans dicrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions under the Civil Rights Act and work to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would clarify that employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for employees with pregnancy-related limitations on the job. In addition, she is committed to addressing racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality and addressing the shortage of maternity care health professionals in underserved rural and urban areas. As the top Democrat on the Rules Committee, Sen. Klobuchar led the effort to change the Senate rules to allow senators to bring their babies on the Senate floor.
This project was published on Jan. 28, 2020.