Biden establishes task force to promote labor unions
President Biden on Monday signed an executive order creating a new White House task force focused on promoting labor unions that will be led by Vice President Harris.
The executive order directs the new task force to make recommendations within 180 days on how already existing federal policies and programs can be used to help workers organize and collectively bargain in the public and private sectors.
The task force, formally known as the “Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment,” will also make recommendations on potential new policies and regulatory changes.
“The Task Force will be dedicated to mobilizing the federal government’s policies, programs, and practices to empower workers to organize and successfully bargain with their employers,” said a White House fact sheet outlining the executive order.
Among its goals, the task force will aim to bolster the use of labor unions in areas with restrictive labor laws and to empower female workers and people of color. The task force also aims to increase union membership across the country, including by promoting worker organizing and collective bargaining within the federal government.
Biden is viewed favorably by labor leaders, and Monday’s announcement is likely to be heralded by the White House as a sign of Biden’s commitment to being a pro-union president.
He has sought to advance measures to raise wages and increase workers’ power but thus far has been unable to deliver on major priorities. This includes his proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15, which was taken out of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal after the Senate parliamentarian said it could not be included as part of a bill passed through budget reconciliation.
“I thank President Biden for creating this task force to address the urgent need of millions of American workers unable to exercise their right to join a union today because of artificial legal barriers and rampant union busting. With today’s action, he is continuing to deliver on his campaign promise to be the most pro-union, pro-worker president ever,” American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley said in a statement Monday afternoon. “Making it easier for workers to join a union will help more Americans share in the better wages, benefits, and working conditions that come with union membership – growing our economy from the bottom up and the middle out.”
Biden has also voiced support for the PRO Act, a bill that would overhaul the nation’s labor laws, which unions consider their top policy priority. The measure has stalled in the Senate after it passed the Democratic-controlled House in March.
Biden issued an executive order in January on protecting worker health and safety, which called on OSHA to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard by March 15. Biden’s Labor Department missed the March deadline and no standard is in place, although Democrats have called for implementation of it since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
—Updated at 4:31 p.m.