White House releases labor report seeking to boost union membership -Breaking
WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – The White House released Monday’s highly anticipated labor task force report. It includes almost 70 recommendations about how government could help workers bargain collectively and join unions.
They include giving the government greater access to federal workers for those seeking membership and pushing agencies like the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to collaborate to promote worker organizing.
In a 43-page document, the Labor Department is urged to protect workers who complain of retaliation for organizing and stop workers from being classified as independent contractors. This has long been a struggle with “gig economy” workers.
The task force was established by President Joe Biden in April to facilitate worker organizing and reverse a long-standing decline in union membership. Kamala Harris, Vice President of America, and Marty Walsh (Labor Secretary) were appointed vice chairs of the task forces. The group also comprises more than 20 head of agencies and cabinet officers.
Biden was able to win in many Rust Belt states in his victory in 2020. Union support will also play an important role in the 2022 midterm elections.
According to the White House, only 10.3% of America’s workforce were represented by unions in 2021. This is a decrease from the more than 30% that was in 1950s. These numbers are lower even for employees in the private sector, where membership in unions has dropped to 6.1% from 16.8% back in 1983.
Marty Walsh, U.S. Labor Secretary told Reuters that the report would be beneficial for American workers.
According to a source familiar with the matter, Harris and Walsh met Biden Friday for a discussion about the report. They had more than twenty-six meetings with stakeholder groups across the country.
Walsh stated that Biden and Harris were focusing on the “follow-up” so they don’t just have to keep track of paper documents. According to Walsh, they talked about “coming up with a system that will help track progress.”
In six months the task force will present a second report, which will discuss progress in implementation.
Liz Shuler (President of AFL-CIO), which includes 57 affiliated unions, and 12.5 Million workers, stated to Reuters that the U.S. labor force will be “the eyes and ears on ground”, making sure that the report is implemented.
She stated that she believed this would be a major breakthrough, with the federal government looking at its own practices and how they can help worker organizing.
Biden’s administration is the most pro-union since Harry Truman, nearly 70 years ago. This has been confirmed by labor leaders as well as outside analysts. They cite actions that put the union at the heart of the policy. Biden never missed an opportunity to emphasize his desire for strengthening the U.S. labour movement through several provisions in his legislative proposals.
Although the White House does not provide any data on how many union members have increased since Biden became president, it states that union support has grown. Sixty eight percent of Americans currently approve of labor unions — the highest level since 1965.
The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (or PRO Act) was passed by the unions. It would ban employers from having mandatory anti-union meetings, and would impose penalties on workers who violate their labor rights. Although the House approved the bill in March, Biden supported it. However, the Senate is likely to block the legislation.
According to the report, “It is important that we acknowledge that the recommendations of the task force cannot and will not replace robust legislative reform that is required to fix our labour laws.”