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Biden wants Billions more for Department of Labor

Biden is proposing a 14% increase to fund apprenticeships and to go after bad employers

Brian Young's picture
Apr 12, 2021

After four years of constant attacks, the Department of Labor (DOL) is hoping to be in a good position for the next fiscal year after President Biden proposed spending $14.2 billion on the Department, a 14% increase from the agency's current budget.

While this is not the final budget, which is written by Congress, it is a proposal of how the President would like to see agencies that are under his control funded. The increases in funding are aimed at a few key areas that will aid in the workforce recovery from the pandemic. In his proposal, the Biden Administration proposes using the increased funding on workplace enforcement agencies. Some of this workforce training money would be used to fund a new initiative to retrain workers in Appalachian communities and reemploy them in clean energy jobs. They also want to use some of the money to provide support for states in processing unemployment claims.

$285 million would be used to expand registered apprenticeship programs. This funding level would be $100 million more than what they currently have under the final Trump budget. The money would be used to expand these apprenticeship programs into communities that are underrepresented such as communities of color and increase outreach to bring women into apprenticeships. These apprenticeship programs are especially important for lower-income communities since workers are paid while learning in the programs leaving graduates trained in a trade and debt-free, unlike college.

Under Biden’s proposal, DOL agencies that focus on worker protection would get a 17% increase ($304 million). These agencies like the Wage and Hour Division and OSHA lost about 14% of their staff according to the White House Office of Management and Budget. That means that both agencies were able to conduct fewer investigations, resulting in more employers getting away with taking advantage of their workers by not paying them overtime or minimum wages, or by putting them in dangerous working conditions. According to the White House, they hope to use the increase in funding to boost efforts around investigating claims of misclassification of workers as independent contractors.

Outside of funding for the Department of Labor, Biden is asking Congress to make a historic $36.5 billion investment in high poverty Title I schools. This would be a $20 billion increase over last year’s funding. It would be the single largest one-year increase in Title I’s history and would address long-standing funding disparities between under-funded schools and their wealthier neighbors, providing vital funds to help both teachers and students in these schools. He also requested $2 billion be used to fund clean energy projects to put “welders, electricians, and other skilled labor to work building clean energy projects across the nation. This investment supports a historic energy efficiency and clean electricity standard that would transform the electric sector to be carbon-pollution-free by 2035 and create good-paying union jobs,” said a press release from the White House.

The Biden budget also sets aside money for union members to expand broadband to rural communities and provide money to create 250,000 good-paying union jobs cleaning up abandoned wells and mines. Both of these proposals were also included in Biden’s recent infrastructure plan.

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