By Mary Westwood, Chair of the Yellowstone County Platform Committee
(Any opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author, but the words of the Montana Democratic Platform are available to all and should encourage discussion and understanding among all Montanans.)
In Montana, many workers have more than one job. With low wage rates, it is often difficult for the average working person to make a living in our State with just one job. Yet Montana workers are incredibly loyal and productive. Montana Democrats believe that we need to honor this great work ethic by treating people with dignity and to help them prepare themselves and their families for the jobs of the future.
The infrastructure bill now before Congress will provide much help in this area by assuring that many good-paying jobs are created to maintain and expand the necessary improvements that keep our state and national economy humming. Hopefully, we will finally also see broadband across our large and diverse state, connecting all of us as never before in our history.
Democrats are not the enemies of private business, but the examples of corporate dysfunction that are part of Montana’s story has made our party an advocate for open and honest dialogue with businesses who seek to reap the rewards of our workers and our natural resources, but don’t always give adequate compensation to our people.
As we move toward a future than many of us cannot even imagine, education and job training will play a crucial role. How many different jobs someone in grade school today will have in his or her lifetime is unknown. But part of having an active, flexible and adaptive economy is making sure the training needed to do those jobs is readily available to our young people, and to older workers who may need to change jobs as the world progresses. The dignity of doing a good job and being a valuable member of the community should be open to all, regardless of circumstances.
Democrats also know that small businesses account for many of the jobs in our communities, and we have pledged to support those businesses with the capital investments needed to help them grow. Even in the pandemic, trailblazing entrepreneurs continued to open new businesses in Montana, making a big difference for those who had been economically displaced by changes in our nation.
In the same vein, Democrats want Montanans to reap the rewards of the great products they produce by assuring there is fair trade for all and that the “Montana” brand continues to signify a high quality that consumers can rely upon. As you can see, Democrats support good jobs and an economy that is vibrant and fair to all individuals and businesses.
This is what the Montana Democratic Party Platform has to say about jobs and our economy.
Jobs and the Economy We know that it requires both government and private business to create the quality jobs necessary to sustain a healthy economy. Government at both federal and state levels is responsible for funding infrastructure, education programs, and economically and environmentally sound growth policies that are major job creators and strengthen and diversify our private-sector economy.
- Increasing the number of jobs in Montana that provide ample wages and salaries, benefits, and a healthy, safe workplace.
- A comprehensive statewide infrastructure modernization program that creates good jobs while strengthening communities and producing a robust foundation for future economic growth, including critical water, sewer, transportation, and high-speed internet systems.
- Access to affordable capital for small businesses.
- Increasing state and federal funding to support highway and bridge improvements, public education, and university research that creates jobs in the private sector.
- State and federal funding for development of science and technology centers of excellence sharing facilities and faculty with Montana’s universities and colleges.
- Efforts to attract diverse and innovative businesses to Montana, especially in rural Montana and Indian Country.
- The development of business/university partnerships and other collaborative efforts to assist existing business and attract quality employers.
- Fair trade agreements that improve the export value of Montana products, thus protecting Montana jobs.
- Promotion of Montana tourism and Montana-made goods and services in the global marketplace.
- Workforce training programs that prepare our workers for dynamic, rapidly changing economies and that enable current and future generations of workers to find jobs that allow them to continue living in Montana.
- Net neutrality and the ability for all Montanans to access a free and open Internet, which is essential to innovation and a competitive economy.
- The use of registered apprenticeships on public works projects.
- A mandate for affordable, accessible childcare.
- Any workplace culture that refuses to take action against sex harassment, sexual assault, sexual discrimination with respect to gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
What you can do to support these great values: Become an active participant in your party. Volunteer at yellowstonedemocrats.org. Every two years, all Montana Democrats are invited to participate in defining what they and their party stand for. These ideas begin in each county and are further refined at a statewide meeting of elected delegates where debate is welcomed and encouraged. Any Democrat can attend the State Platform Convention and advocate for a particular idea.
The next Yellowstone County Platform Convention will be in May, 2022. The State Platform Convention will be held in the summer of 2022. As an individual Democrat, you have the power to define what your party believes and supports through participation, legislation and governance. Please be a truth seeker, ignore unsubstantiated rumors and help your fellow citizens get the real information about your party. Share our platform with your friends and neighbors. We are many who have become one in this great experiment in democracy.