What we're fighting for:

True, meaningful, life-altering change for working families.

Economic Security for Working Families

Increase the Minimum Wage to a Living Wage for ALL Workers Nobody working 40 hours a week should be living in poverty. We must bring up the state’s minimum wage to a living wage, bringing thousands of families out of poverty with it, and also bring back local control for cities and towns to go further. We must also fight so that ALL workers benefit by removing exemptions for restaurant and tipped workers, youth workers, and workers with disabilities. We must ensure that the dignity of all workers is recognized with fair wages, and that we work to hold employers accountable to equal wage laws that mean equal pay for equal work.

  • $15/hr minimum wage
  • Abolish the immoral sub-minimum wage (ALL workers, including tipped workers, youth workers, and workers with disabilities deserve the dignity of a living wage).
  • Indexed to median wages to ensure when some of us are doing well, we all feel the positive impact.
  • Take back local control over minimum wages so cities and towns can go further to help working families.
Paid Sick and Safe Leave and Paid Family Medical Leave No one should have to worry about losing their job, or losing their pay, if they need to stay home due to illness. As we’re quickly realizing, it’s also in the interest of all people when those with an illness have the ability and security of staying home when sick. All workers should have the right to accrue paid sick leave through their employment. And we have more than enough evidence to know that having one or both parents involved from the beginning of a child’s life can be immensely beneficial for everyone involved, and there are enough stresses involved in the birth of a child that it’s wrong to add the stress of a job on top of it all. All North Dakota families should have access to paid family leave, to use in concert or separately with their partner, after birth, adoption, or foster care placement. Family needs don’t end after having a child, either. That’s why it’s also important that we have protections for workers taking care of an ill child, spouse, parent, grandparent, or sibling.
  • ALL workers have the right to accrue paid sick and safe leave.
    • Minimum of one hour paid sick and safe leave per 30 hours worked
    • Starting bank of three work days (typical number of hours paid for work in a day)
    • Paid at full hourly wage
    • Require accurate and timely reporting at hiring, and of accrual and usage
  • ALL workers have the right to paid family and medical leave.
    • At least 12 weeks paid family and medical leave
    • Paid at least at 66% of regular wage (maximum of $4000 per month)
    • Coveres childbirth, adoption, and serious medical condition for self or family
  • ALL workers have the right to accrue paid vacation (leave for any reason).
    • Minimum of 80 hours per year
    • Accrued at a minimum of 1 hour paid vacation per 30 hours worked.
    • Protections against retaliation for requesting and/or using earned PTO
Recognize Health Care as a Human Right, Expand Expansion and Find Ways to Lower Health Care Costs Healthcare is a human right, period. Being able to see a doctor, receiving treatment, and taking medicine shouldn't depend on who you work for or how much money you make - we should ALL be able to do so without risking financial ruin for things entirely out of our control. ACA Medicaid Expansion has been a hugely successful program, providing high-quality insurance and healthcare for those who qualify, but the income limits are very restrictive. We should join our neighbors in Minnesota and opt-in to the ACA’s Basic Health Program, which would provide similar high-quality health insurance plans with subsidized premiums for people earning up to 200% FPL. The struggle with health insurance affordability obviously extends well beyond 200% FPL, however. One of the largest gaps in coverage we see nationwide are people without employer-based insurance and who make too much for Medicaid, ACA Expansion, or meaningful subsidies, but too little to be able to afford a private plan on the marketplace. We should study implementing a public option so that individuals, families, and small businesses can buy into the state or Expansion plans with the support of meaningful income-based subsidies. We should also explore a basic plan that would allow all North Dakotans access to at least a few essential yearly appointments, such as a yearly physical and/or women’s health exams, free of charge.
  • Healthcare is a Human Right
  • Work to unlink healthcare from employment to the furthest extent possible as a state.
  • Study universal state-run health insurance program with truly meaningful subsidies.
  • Opt-in to the ACA’s Basic Health Program.
  • Create an Essential Health Plan that provides at least a few essential yearly appointments, such as a yearly physical and/or women’s health exams, free of charge.
  • Enshrine ACA protections into state law.
  • Cap prescription drug prices and co-pays.
  • Pricing review boards for both services and prescription drugs are necessary to track increases and notify the public of incoming changes.
  • True and easy to understand pricing transparency must be implemented - you should never have to be surprised by the bill after a hospital visit.
  • Explore solutions such as state-led negotiation of drug prices, and importation of drugs from Canada and other sources.
  • Ensure all Covid-19 related care is free.
Ensure Truly Affordable Housing - and Tenants' Rights Housing is a human right. It’s not a privilege. You shouldn’t have to rely on the benevolence of landlords, or managers, or developers for the opportunity to have shelter. You shouldn’t have to hand over half of your paycheck each month to a corporation, who simply owns property, in order to keep a roof over your family’s heads. Housing is a human right. In Grand Forks, the cost of housing is far too high for far too many of us. 40% of us are rent burdened. We need to increase affordable stock with state investment in lower-income units and mixed-income social housing. We need more careful planning, encouraging in-fill development and a statewide upzoning law in our urban centers, allowing multi-family units to be built in areas currently zoned for single-family units. And we desperately need a Tenants Bill of Rights that would provide vital protections for renters, families in manufactured homes on rented lots, and families in a mortgaged home.
  • Tenants Bill of Rights
    • Universal rent control with localities able to expand
    • Expand housing discrimination laws to include protections for LGBTQ+, lawful occupation, source of income, eviction history, credit score, and immigration status
    • Just cause eviction standard
    • Right to a lease renewal
    • Quicker security deposit return and stronger protections (14 days after move out to give an itemized statement with damages and actual costs, amount withheld, and total amount to be returned)
    • Release from lease if tenant is being harassed by landlord or the unit is unsafe
    • Strengthen and protect the right to organize as tenants (prohibit retaliation)
    • Cap application fees and security deposits
    • Prevent landlords from entering an apartment without at least 24 hours notice of who, when, and why - suspend unauthorized entry until the end of the pandemic
    • Legal enforcement of tenant’s rights
    • Mandate the tenant bill of rights be presented at every lease signing
    • Enshrine the right to counsel during eviction proceedings
End the Child Care Crisis The lack of available and affordable childcare is a crisis hitting all families in our community, but it especially affects working class families who must make the excruciating decision between working or staying home. We need to find ways to both decrease costs and increase assistance for working families, increase wages and protections for child care workers, and grow the pool of both in-home providers and child care facilities through re-evaluation of regulations, startup assistance, and incentives for providers who increase capacity. End the Human Services Cliff For some families receiving Medicaid, ACA Expansion, SNAP, and other benefits, there is a very real threat of receiving too much in wages and slipping over the income limits for their program - a dollar over and you’ve completely lost one of the few supports available to your family. Our state should do what it can within the complex federal requirements for each program to help families transition off of human service programs and into a new job, more hours, or higher wages without being sent over the income-limit cliff. State-funded transitional periods and longer buffer periods between income re-verifications would help ensure the health and financial security of our families, ease their worries about increasing work, and strengthen our state’s workforce by removing a disincentive to employment.

Protections for Working Families

Repeal Our So-Called “Right to Work” Law So-called “Right to Work” laws make it more difficult for workers to unionize and collectively bargain with their employers - it’s proven very successful in repressing workers’ wages, benefits, protections, and safety. It’s been a boon for companies and is a big part of why the government ends up effectively subsidizing large corporations with social service programs for their poorly-paid and maltreated employees. No more. We must end “Right to Work” and provide rights and supports for all workers interested in unionizing and collective bargaining. Collective Bargaining Rights for ALL Workers Right now, public employees (outside of K-12 teachers) and farm workers are barred from coming together with and negotiating a contract through collective bargaining. You and your coworkers should have the right to speak in solidarity with one voice. These rights and protections should be extended and actively supported for all. We’re not only going to increase union membership in North Dakota, but we’re going to make sure it’s able to mean something more, too. Increase Protections for Platform/Gig, Temporary, and Seasonal Workers The realities and difficulties of our economic system has pushed more and more families toward taking additional jobs. The creation of the “gig economy” has given many workers an easy entry into jobs like transportation and delivery, whether treated as a side-gig or a main source of income. The companies running these gig platforms take advantage of the ability to classify workers on their platforms as “independent contractors,” limiting the rights to things such as basic protections, minimum wage and a livable wage, and sick and family leave. Recently, a number of states have explored laws requiring a reclassification of many such workers as “employees.” Grand Forks has many people, including college students, who rely on work with platforms such as Lyft and Uber, who would all benefit from the added protections a reclassification of their employment status would afford. Expand Local Rights on Rent Control and Incentivize Development of Low-Income Housing North Dakota currently bans cities from creating their own rent control standards. Landlords have free reign on your living conditions and the terms in your lease renewals. We must allow localities, who know their community’s needs best, to set reasonable rent controls to ensure that we have protections for people who rent. And we must ensure that we tighten eviction law, creating a standard of "just cause" for any attempted evictions. The state should also look to partner with local housing authorities to develop new affordable single and multi-family housing units for purchase. Expanded affordable housing would help working families get into home ownership, build equity, and potentially attract more workers to our communities. Extend Workers Compensation to Cover Mental Health Claims As we learn more and more about the importance of mental health and well-being, it is imperative that workers have the ability to be justly compensated and protected if a workplace incident leads to a mental health problem and/or trauma. North Dakotans should be able to expect a state workers compensation program that works for them, and not for protecting the financial interests of insurance companies and corporations.

A Brighter Future for Working Families

Re-establish North Dakota as the Premier State for Pre-K and K-12 Education There once was a time when North Dakota was a model for the nation on K-12 education, when our districts, teachers, staff, and curriculum shined as bright as the eager children in the seats. Through struggles over funding, infrastructure needs, teacher and staff shortages, and nationally-driven shifts in focus, we’ve lost a bit of what made us special. We can get that back, and we need to for our future and our children. We must secure the future of educational funding in our state. The legislature has recently moved toward providing more state funding to school districts to lessen the property tax burden on home-owning families; this is the right direction and the state should continue to move towards full state funding. A child’s educational experience should not rely on their zip code. Increased state support can help ease the pinch of local school districts, see an increase in wages and benefits for teachers and all of the amazing school staff, see our state become competitive in hiring again, spur innovation in teaching, expand dual-credit and early entry programs, and ensure special education programs are fully funded and supported. Expand and Support Pre-K and After-school Programming Universal early childhood educational opportunities are a proven success, especially for working families. Not only do they offer vital educational and social supports for young children, they also lessen the burden on a community’s child care providers and allow families to work or pursue education. After-school programming serves many of the same roles, providing extra academic and social supports for children, while also easing the worry about finishing the work day, sending your children home alone, or finding other child care for working families. Universal School Meals All children should be able to eat breakfast and lunch at their school without their families worrying about how they’re going to pay for it or facing the shame of alternative meals. “School lunch debt” is a phrase that should not exist in our society. We should ensure all children have their nutritional needs met throughout the school day and are primed for academic and social success. Support School Infrastructure Needs to Help Keep Neighborhood Schools Alive State support for the impending school infrastructure crisis across our state would help make sure our children are in safe and healthy environments and support the survival of neighborhood schools - including all of the amazing and vital benefits they provide to our communities and families, such as smaller class sizes. Exploring Ways to Make Higher Education and Skills Training More Affordable The financial burden on those seeking college degrees and/or occupational training in North Dakota is increasing each year, with many graduates carrying loan burdens in excess of $50k. It’s one more pain point for working families and a barrier to getting a great start on your own. We must explore ways to reduce tuition for students and learners, including studying making state colleges tuition-free for 2-4 years for in-state high school graduates, and leverage our Bank of North Dakota to both ease the student loan burden so many graduates are buried under, and to help prevent new students from falling into the same situation. Diversify Our Economy By Leveraging Our Colleges and Universities to Become Leaders in Sustainable Energy You and I need clear air to breathe, clean water to drink, and clean fields for our food to grow. That’s all increasingly at risk in North Dakota. Staking our state’s future on a fossil-fuel industry whose future we know is not sustainable in the long-term, and likely not much better in the short-term, is simply irresponsible. The continued purposeful rejection of sustainable and renewable energy is setting North Dakota up for a terrible economic crisis for the next generation. We know that, as a society, there’s an imminent need to develop sustainable energy technologies and means of production. We can either wait and buy it from other states and abroad, or we can innovate and produce it right here and across our state. UND and Grand Forks are already leading the nation, if not the world, in UAS innovation, research, development, and training. And we’re producing some of the best petroleum engineers in the country, if not the world, too. Let’s leverage that ingenuity at all of our great universities and colleges, with their amazing staff and students, to lead the way for green energy innovation, research, and development. Let’s train the workforce necessary to build and implement sustainable energy infrastructure. Let’s do it right here in North Dakota, at UND and across our higher education system, and in Grand Forks and across our communities. And let’s also lead the way in implementing those solutions on our campuses and in our communities.


Paid for by Adam Fortwengler for North Dakota - Gopal Adhikari, Treasurer

P.O. Box 5118, Grand Forks, ND 58206