By Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa
Published in the Detroit News, May 5, 2021
The Teamsters and other unions for years have been urging lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to prioritize the needs of working people, given that the wealthy in this country have never done better. Finally, elected officials are responding.
More than a million hardworking Americans are set to benefit from a multiemployer pension fix enacted by Congress in March, and efforts to help U.S. workers haven’t stopped there. President Biden in recent weeks rolled out substantive proposals like the American Jobs Plan (AJP) and the American Families Plan (AFP) that would bring good-paying jobs and added work-home balance to many workers who have been struggling to support their families during the pandemic.
The AJP offers a broad vision for putting the nation’s economy on a 21st century path towards better paying jobs that lift up American workers, promoting job creation and worker protections. The Biden administration’s commitment to modernizing the nation’s aging infrastructure will produce quality opportunities that will revitalize the middle class.
No matter which side of the aisle lawmakers are on, infrastructure investment has long been a goal supported by Democrats and Republicans. While the U.S. is the wealthiest country in the world, it ranks a dismal 13th when it comes to the overall quality of infrastructure. After decades of disinvestment, the nation’s transportation network is crumbling and something must be done.
But that’s not all the legislation aims to reform. The White House’s push for Congress to enact the Protecting the Right to Organize Act as a key piece of the AJP is another sign that President Biden is fulfilling his promise to reform labor law and empower millions of workers looking for a voice on the job.
It also focuses on innovation in a new economy that will create hundreds of thousands of quality jobs now. American workers will build and make things in every part of this country, and they will be trained for well-paying, middle-class, union jobs.
Meanwhile, the AFP is a sweeping measure that lifts up hardworking Americans by expanding education opportunities, mandating paid leave, subsidizing child care and health care for low- and middle-income workers and providing tax relief to the middle class.
Nobody could argue that the pandemic has disproportionately strained working women, who often struggle to balance a job (or two) while caring for both younger and older generations. Many have simply left the workforce, but the AFP will go a long way towards alleviating these issues.
Not only will workers be able to receive free workforce training like the Teamsters and other unions already offer or earn a two-year degree at a community college, but their children will also be eligible for free pre-K schooling beginning at age three. Child-care costs will be capped for many workers, and they will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for themselves or ailing loved ones.
The Biden administration already has bipartisan support for these measures but despite feigning compassion, thus far there has been inaction by some who know better. Lawmakers were elected to improve the lives of ALL of their constituents. It’s time to drop the political games and do what’s right for those just trying to earn an honest living, and not just those who have already seen good fortune in the past few years.