Teamsters Want to Build Country Back Stronger

build back stronger

The new year often brings the feeling of a clean slate. And that is especially true this year, with a new president set to take office in Washington who made worker issues a top concern in his campaign.

Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris promised to fight for workers and their unions, and to secure their pensions. The Teamsters are confident they will do just that. Given the nation continues to be in the midst of a pandemic, there are a lot of challenges that must be addressed. But the Teamsters are optimistic that the Biden-Harris administration will get it done.

“Normalcy might not be here yet, but the ongoing COVID-19 vaccine distribution roll out which UPS Teamsters are participating in shows a real solution is near,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “And new White House leadership brings hope that we will soon have a federal government that puts the people above the powerful.”

Workers are ready to move beyond the empty promises of the past four years. The Teamsters have rolled out a robust and aggressive agenda that begins with righting the wrongs of the past administration and then gets to the business of moving the ball forward for members and their families. The three-pronged plan lays out the priorities for the Teamsters Union at the federal, state and local level: Good Jobs, Strong Unions and Secure Pensions.

At the federal level, the union has been engaged in discussions with the Biden transition team for months in an effort to communicate the union’s top issues and to build momentum for action by incoming administration. The union is optimistic that those efforts will prove to be fruitful not only in the early days of the Biden presidency, but in the months and years to come.

In response to calls by the Teamsters and other key stakeholders, it is expected that the Biden’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) team will quickly act to implement new airborne infectious disease enforceable standards to better protect workers on the job. The addition of former OSHA administrator David Michaels to Biden’s Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board proves that this White House is serious about workplace safety.

The Teamsters are also optimistic that the Biden-Harris administration will not implement a new Department of Labor rule that makes it easier for companies to classify workers as contractors. Additional victories for the Teamsters are likely to come quickly, including the expectation that a rewrite of hours-of-service rules will be overturned; that state exemptions granted to the federal truck driver meal-and-rest break regulations will be reversed; and that pilot programs allowing some teens to drive commercial trucks interstate and extending truck driver hours beyond 14 hours a day are ended as well.

Of course, there is still much more to be done. Getting a fix for the 1.5 million Americans facing uncertain retirements due to their faltering multiemployer pensions remains the union’s top priority, and one that Biden and Harris both promised to address once they take office. It will take an “all hands on deck” effort by the union to encourage members of Congress to deliver a bill for President Biden to sign that saves Teamster pensions.

The nation’s workers still need more economic relief, especially as the coronavirus continues its relentless assault on the nation’s health and economy.  And state and local government need additional funds to cover their additional expenses during the ongoing pandemic.

Additionally, the Teamsters are seeking action at all levels of government to beef up labor standards addressing issues in transportation, automation, and trade, including the implementation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The fight for expanded union rights and fair trade are keystones of this union’s platform not only because they affect our members, but because they can help build back a stronger union movement and a middle class that allows our country to flourish.

The Teamsters, like many of our members, are hopeful about America’s future in the coming year. That hope is rooted in the trust President-elect Biden will keep his promises, and just as he has in the past, prove that he can get things done to help working Americans. The Teamsters are coming out of the gate strong in 2021 and will continue to flex the political muscle that elected labor allies in 2020. That is how we are going to build this country back stronger.