During his campaign, Joe Biden pledged to be the most pro-worker president in our country’s history and he has spent the last 365 days delivering on that promise.
On his very first day in office, President Biden fired Peter Robb, Donald Trump’s union-busting National Labor Relations Board general counsel, making it clear that he stood on the side of workers, not corporations. He nominated Jennifer Abruzzo, a brilliant former CWA attorney who understands how the actions of the NLRB impact the daily lives of people at their workplaces. With Abruzzo as general counsel and the addition of Gwynne Wilcox and David Prouty to the NLRB, the Board has a pro-worker majority and is once again fulfilling its mission to protect the right of workers to join together to improve their wages and working conditions.
He appointed a union member - Marty Walsh - as Secretary of Labor, and used his executive power to strengthen Buy America requirements for federal spending, provide protections, job security, and a minimum wage increase for federal contractors, ban non-compete agreements that limit job opportunities, and ensure that jobs and wages are taken into account during banking mergers. Throughout the Biden administration, union leaders and activists are being invited to share information and expertise to help shape policies that affect working people.
President Biden established a Task force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, led by Vice President Kamala Harris. He has used his bully pulpit to encourage workers to join unions and to demand that companies stop bringing in scabs when workers go on strike.
President Biden has had two monumental legislative victories in his first year: the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The American Rescue Plan provided critical funding to keep workers safe, protect jobs, and stabilize the pensions we’ve earned. It extended the successful payroll support program, directing money toward saving thousands of airline jobs instead of sending it into the pockets of executives and shareholders. Funding from the bill is being used to provide premium pay for essential state and local government workers and to invest in broadband infrastructure.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will transform our lives, finally addressing much needed repair and improvements to our roads, bridges, airports, and utilities. The bill supports the expansion and affordability of broadband and prioritizes broadband projects from employers who follow labor law. All of this investment means more jobs, not just during the buildout phase, but because the new infrastructure will create new opportunities.
While President Biden has laid a strong foundation, much remains to be done. The COVID pandemic has disrupted our lives, and over a million women have left the workforce, many because of a lack of affordable childcare options. Workers are organizing for better pay and working conditions, but weak and outdated labor laws make it much too difficult for them to build power by joining unions. With each passing day the potential impact of climate change grows more severe.
President Biden’s worker-centered Build Back Better plan would address these problems, but it remains mired in the U.S. Senate, trapped by arcane rules and procedures, including the filibuster, that allow a small number of Senators to block policies supported by large majorities of Americans.
As we enter the second year of the Biden presidency, we must use our voices and our votes to build on the progress that we have made and empower working people to make lasting change by passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act.