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Biden's Jobs and Recovery Plan

He is calling for Buy American, creating 5 million union jobs, and a national $15 minimum wage

Brian Young's picture
Jul 10, 2020

On Thursday, presumptive Democratic nominee for President Joe Biden released his new jobs and recovery plan. Just a day before, the campaign also released the findings from the “unity task force." Both plans had numerous recommendations on what Biden could do to strengthen unions and create a stronger workforce. Here is a look at some of the highlights.

In his Jobs and Economic Recovery plan, Biden proposes creating 5 million manufacturing and innovation jobs as well as making an investment of $300 billion in his first term to be spent on research and development to create a diverse range of high-quality jobs.

Biden is also proposing spending $400 billion in government money to “Buy American.” He will require that all American companies that want to receive Buy American funds pay their workers at least $15/hr, provide paid leave, maintain fair overtime and scheduling practices, and guarantee a choice to join a union and bargain collectively. Not only would Biden’s plan help to prop up American companies but it would make an important investment in companies that are doing the right thing and taking care of their workers. This would be an expansion of the Obama-era policy, which required all government contractors to give their workers paid sick leave and banned companies that had labor violations from working with the federal government. Biden anticipates that his plan will create “millions of good-paying union jobs in manufacturing and technology across the country.”

As Biden has said, let’s not just praise them, let’s pay them — a decent wage, at least $15 per hour, and ending the tipped minimum wage and sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities, and strong benefits so they can live a middle-class life and provide opportunity for their kids. This starts with passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, providing public service and federal government workers with bargaining rights, and taking other steps to make it easier for workers to organize unions and collectively bargain. Biden will also address discrimination and harassment in the workplace, and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act as the next step in efforts to ensure women are paid equally for equal work. He will pass universal paid sick days and 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.

The other big release from the Biden campaign was the 110-page unity task force report. The unity task force was created after the Democratic primary to bring Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden supporters together to create a roadmap of progressive policies that Biden could consider adopting. Members of the task force included Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, former Secretary of State John Kerry, Chiraag Bains, director of legal strategies for the liberal think tank Demos; Reps. Karen Bass and Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, Bobby Scott of Virginia and the head of the Labor Committee in Congress, Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Marcia Fudge of Ohio; Dr. Heather Gautney, a sociology professor, and former Senate staffer; Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center; former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy; and union activist Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.

Regarding working people and organized labor, the task force recommended a number of policy positions, some of which Biden is already advocating for. Their suggestions include raising the federal minimum wage to $15, establishing “card check” union elections and repealing state right-to-work laws, and enacting the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, H.R. 2474 (116), which would, among other things, enhance the NLRB's power by allowing it to levy punitive fines against employers who violate labor laws. Biden has previously said that he would sign the PRO Act into law and would push for criminal penalties against employers who attempt to bust a union.

In the Raising Wages and Promoting Workers’ Rights section, the group says:

Democrats will fight to raise wages for working people and improve job quality and security, including by raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. We know that strong American labor unions help increase wages and job standards for workers across the economy, which is why Democrats will prioritize passing the PRO Act and restoring workers’ rights, including the right to launch secondary boycotts. We will repeal so-called “right to work” laws that undermine worker power and lead to lower wages and less protection for workers across the economy. And we will take action to rein in anti-competitive corporate power by rewriting the rules that have undermined workers’ ability to advocate for themselves, including non-compete clauses, no-poaching agreements, and contracts that force workers into mandatory arbitration to resolve violations of employment laws.

 Democrats will recognize unions with majority sign-up—via so-called “card check” processes—and ban captive audience meetings, which employers use to bully and browbeat workers. We will take action to guarantee that when workers come to the table, they are able to bargain with the employers who actually hold the power, including franchisors, and will direct the National Labor Relations Board to enforce the law by penalizing companies that bargain in bad faith with their workers. Taxpayer dollars should never flow to employers who steal workers’ wages, violate labor laws, or engage in union-busting, and Democrats will guarantee that they won’t. We know that when employers feel free to abuse immigrant workers, all workers suffer. That is why we support the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights and the POWER Act, and will enforce wage, hour, health, and safety rules across the economy. And we will strengthen labor rights for the more than 20 million public-sector employees in the United States, including by providing a federal guarantee for public-sector employees to bargain for better pay and benefits and the working conditions they deserve, and vigorously protecting all private-sector workers' right to strike without fear of coercion, interference, and undue delay.

The full report can be read by clicking here, with the labor section beginning on page 14.

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