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Biden First 100 Days: Help Unions

Push from organized Labor on pensions and NLRB Chief

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jan 20, 2021

With Joe Biden now becoming the President of the United States, unions are stepping up their effort to ensure that Biden is the most pro-union President in history. Some of these are things that Biden must rely on Congress to pass, but others are things that he can do through Executive Order.

In an email from the AFL-CIO, they announced that they are pushing Biden to pass their Workers First Agenda which includes empowering workers through unions, bringing the pandemic under control and keeping workers safe, investing in good jobs, and keeping state, local, and other essential workers employed, fighting for racial justice and democracy, and giving workers more economic security (health care, retirement, unemployment benefits, etc.). Some of these issues could be achieved through the passage of the PRO Act, while others can be achieved through a new COVID relief bill and infrastructure funding.

The Teamsters are also asking for Biden and the new Democratic-controlled Congress to help them to shore up their multi-employer pension system. This is an issue they have been working on for a number of years and without federal help, it will go insolvent in 2026.

Many unions are also calling on Biden to take action on the National Labor Relations Board. SEIU is asking him to immediately fire NLRB Counsel Peter Robb, who has led the charge to make the board significantly more anti-union. Robb still has ten months left in his term. SEIU said that Robb is an “extreme, anti-union ideologue” and a “uniquely destructive figure.” The Teamsters are urging Biden to replace Robb and the other anti-union members of the NLRB with individuals who have a documented history of standing up for workers. Although his term is for four years, the counsel can be fired at any time by the President. According to Bloomberg, the Biden Administration agrees with SEIU and is asking Robb for his resignation.

Many unions, including the Teamsters and AFL-CIO, are also calling on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue workplace safety regulations for Covid-19, as well as for heat and ergonomic hazards.

Other issues that they are encouraging Biden to take up right away, include restoring the Obama-era overtime rule, taking action on the misclassification of workers, and beginning action on establishing the prevailing wage for Davis-Bacon jobs. This is especially important since Biden is pushing a massive infrastructure project that will create millions of prevailing wage jobs.

The Machinist Union is also calling for Biden to take action on trade. They say that they would like Biden to expand Buy American provisions, pass fair trade policies, and bring jobs back to the United States.

“I know President Biden and Vice President Harris fully understand that this nation has persevered through this crisis and many others on the backs of working people. We must return to putting the interests of the people ahead of corporations. We must advance the livelihoods and futures of working people and our communities. That means keeping workers safe, making it easier to form and join a union, affordable healthcare, secure retirements, and much more. It means expanding ‘Buy American’ policies, fair trade, and bringing jobs back home to the skilled and dedicated workers right here in America. It means real relief for the aerospace, defense, airline, manufacturing, healthcare workers and more who have bravely kept our nation and world moving through the COVID-19 pandemic. The Machinists Union is a bold, progressive union with big plans for the future. We now have real allies in the White House, the House and the Senate. It’s time for action—let’s get to work.”

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