Working Americans have been hit hard by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – not just their health, but their wallets as well. Millions are out of work and struggling to keep food on the table. And thanks to some policy changes made during the Trump administration, the social safety net is fraying beneath them.
That’s unacceptable in this country. But unfortunately, it is not surprising. It’s what happens when unionization is undermined and workers don’t have the basic protections they need at the workplace – not just job safety, but when it comes to bargaining, due process and worker representation as well. That’s why the Teamsters are urging the Biden administration and Congress to take action as part of the union’s new Build Back Stronger campaign.
The results of those efforts thus far have been productive, as President Biden has signed several positive executive orders (EOs) during his first 10 days in office.
For example, his Made in America order sets in motion a series of reforms to current federal procurement policies that are designed to eliminate the excessive and unnecessary use of foreign suppliers through trade-pact waivers. These waivers, which can be used to procure goods from 60 countries that are U.S. trade partners, have allowed billions of tax dollars to be spent overseas rather than with American suppliers.
Another EO issued by Biden rescinds Trump administration directives which curtailed the collective bargaining, due process and workplace representation rights for federal workers, while also putting forward a plan to raise the minimum wage for federal government workers and contractors to $15 an hour.
But that is only a start for the pro-worker agenda needed in this country. The Teamsters support passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, which gives workers a fair, timely and direct path to form a union.
And Congress and all relevant federal agencies must prioritize a solution to the growing problem of worker misclassification through congressional and administrative action. The union supports codifying the so-called “ABC” test for all pertinent, federal employment, benefit and tax laws.
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) can also take steps to help workers. With social distancing requirements impacting all aspects of work life, the DOL should provide immediate guidance on holding union elections during the COVID-19 pandemic through remote electronic voting. And the DOL should also expand transparency in the use of anti-union consultants by re-promulgating the so-called “Persuader Rule.”
The Teamsters know there is a lot more work to do to build strong unions. It won’t stop until it’s done.