For decades, the labor movement has sought a political partner who would stand with the nation’s workers in their fight for respect and dignity on the job. A new report released today confirms unions have found one, and his name is Joe Biden.
The document produced by The White House Task Force on Working Organizing and Empowerment shows the Biden administration is serious when it come to easing efforts to allow hardworking Americans join together and negotiate for better wages, working conditions and benefits. It recognizes that increasing worker organizing and empowerment is critical to growing the middle class, building an economy that puts workers first, and strengthening our democracy.
The report says the White House will use the tools at its disposal currently to get it done.
“While some past administrations have taken individual actions to empower workers and strengthen their rights, the Biden-Harris administration will be the first to take a comprehensive approach to doing so with the existing authority of the executive branch,” it reads. “Our goal is not just to facilitate worker power through executive action — it is to model practices that can be followed by state and local governments, private sector employers, and others.”
Some of the key steps identified in the report include:
- Positioning the federal government as a model actor to promote broader labor-management engagement;
- Using the federal government’s authority to support worker empowerment by providing information, improving transparency, and making sure existing pro-worker services are delivered in a timely and helpful manner, and;
- Using longstanding authority to leverage the federal government’s purchasing and spending power to support workers who are organizing and pro-worker employers.
These are not long-term solutions, however. While the executive branch can use government to encourage collective bargaining but as the report points out, this nation also needs “robust legislative change.”
That’s why it is essential for the Senate to pass the Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, just like the House did last year. The PRO Act would restore fairness to the economy at a time when income inequality has stifled the ability of far too many hardworking Americans to earn a decent wage that allows them to make ends meet.
It will strengthen the 86-year-old National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) so that workers seeking to organize a union and negotiate higher wages and better benefits will be protected. Workers deserve a safe workplace, the ability to stand together and negotiate better working conditions, and to live a middle-class lifestyle.
We know workers want to join unions. A poll published last year placed the popularity of unions at 68 percent, the highest since 1965. Workers are getting a raw deal from big business. But they need the tools to succeed. This measures in this report are an important starting point.