/De Blasio unveils first major policy proposal at union headquarters in D.C.

De Blasio unveils first major policy proposal at union headquarters in D.C.

Bill de Blasio | Getty Images

The announcement, which mirrors policies Bill de Blasio has pushed during his time as mayor, echoed his campaign theme of addressing problems faced by low-income workers. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled the first major policy proposal of his struggling presidential campaign Tuesday, heading to the nation’s capital to lay out a “workers’ bill of rights” at a union headquarters.

The proposal, which he unveiled in a BuzzFeed op-ed earlier in the day, includes two weeks of paid time off for all workers, a national $15 minimum wage and stronger protections from terminations.

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“If you care about beating Donald Trump, working people are not going to come out and vote unless they believe it’ll actually change their lives,” de Blasio told a small crowd gathered for his event at the Communications Workers of America’s office in Washington, D.C.

He called for a “just cause” policy to replace “at will” employment, effectively ending the policy of firing workers for any reasons unrelated to job performance “and only after appropriate warning or due process,” according to his blog post on Medium.com.

At least some of his proposals would need the support of Congress.

The announcement, which mirrors policies de Blasio has pushed during his time as mayor, echoed his campaign theme of addressing problems faced by low-income workers. It also gave him an opportunity to differentiate himself from some of the other candidates in the crowded primary field.

He continued his call for an overhaul of NAFTA, and in an interview on MSNBC Tuesday he criticized leading Democratic candidate Joe Biden for his prior support of the deal.

“This is a guy who voted for NAFTA, which then led to the loss of over a million manufacturing jobs in the Midwest and the very places Democrats lost to Donald Trump,” he told host Andrea Mitchell.

At the union event he warned, “Republicans are bringing forward a new NAFTA; too many Democrats are working with them on it.”

His “bill of rights” also called for better working conditions — including base pay and retirement benefits — for freelancers and employees of the “gig economy,” such as Uber and Lyft drivers.

De Blasio is hoping his longstanding ties to New York unions will help his campaign, which is struggling to gain traction. He rarely polls above 1 percent and raised just $1.1 million since entering the race in May, per the latest campaign filing. A generally well-regarded debate performance last month was quickly forgotten after a blockbuster exchange over school segregation between Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Biden the following night.

The New York City chapter of the Hotel Trades Council union, which de Blasio has helped throughout his mayoral tenure, has raised him money from its members and bought air time on his behalf.

Shane Larson, the national director of legislation, politics and international affairs for CWA, told POLITICO that the mayor wasn’t necessarily there to seek the group’s endorsement, though he was encouraged by de Blasio’s pro-union message.

Larson, who introduced de Blasio, said CWA members would be deciding whether they plan to endorse a candidate at the forthcoming convention later this month. The group endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the last presidential primary.

While de Blasio hit the campaign trail to tout his record as mayor of America’s “fairest” city, the city itself has had a particularly rough few weeks. Storms and heatwaves were exacerbated by blackouts and flooding in certain neighborhoods along with mass transit breakdowns — all of which highlighted the city’s population of mentally ill homeless people living on the streets.

De Blasio, meanwhile, has caught flack from activists for not firing the NYPD officer who was responsible for the 2014 death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who was resisting arrest and warned officers 11 times he couldn’t breathe before losing consciousness.

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