Biden task force releases report to strengthen unions

A Biden administration task force on organized labor released a series of recommendations on Monday that could make it easier to unionize federal workers and contractors.

The report submitted to President Joe Biden included 70 separate policy proposals, according to a White House statement. Biden created the task force chaired by Vice President Kamala Harris, with Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh as vice-president, by decree last April.

The report argues that a decades-long decline union membership coincided with an increase in the share of income going to the top 10%. He further indicates that most Americans have a favorable impression of unions and would join one if given the chance in a vote. Still, the Labor Department reported last month that just 10.3% of workers belonged to a union in 2021, down from 20.1% in 1983.

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Many of the proposals to increase unionization are specific directions aimed at the federal government as an employer. The Interior Department is among four agencies that will now allow union organizers to speak with employees on federal property, a rule that applies to private sector employees on government contracts.

The Departments of Transportation and Commerce will establish preferences and guidelines for federal subsidies to promote union jobs.

There will be a ban on federal contract dollars earmarked for union-busting activities by the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Labor as well as the Office of Management and Budget.

Other proposals include efforts to improve workers’ awareness of their rights and to enforce existing labor laws. The working group plans to submit a follow-up report in six months to describe how the agencies are implementing the policies and make further recommendations.

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