White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment
On February 7, the Biden administration Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment issued a set of recommendations to make it easier for workers of federal contractors and federal workers to unionize.
The report consisted of nearly 70 recommendations to assist in promoting worker organization for both government employees and private-sector employees of federal contractors. The report was made in cooperation with 20 federal agencies, departments, and White House offices. Vice President Kamala Harris serves as the task force’s Chair, while Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh is serving as its Vice Chair. Labor Marty Walsh is a former trade union leader.
President Biden issued Executive Order 14025 in April of 2021 to increase worker organization and empowerment. This helps to build the U.S. economy by putting workers first, and strengthens democracy. The administration has asserted that unions benefit everyone, and that workers need more awareness of their protected rights and protections against retaliation from employers. Protecting the rights of workers will increase worker power and unions. The task force proposed a resource center to provide information about unions and collective bargaining for workers, employers, agencies, and policy makers. In addition, under these initiatives, the U.S. Department of Labor ensures equity among workers with disabilities, workers of color, and female workers. President Biden stated, “Throughout our country’s history, unions have been the driving forces for advancements in workers’ rights and improved living standards for union and non-union workers. They have fought for higher wages, greater job security, safety and health laws, essential benefits like health insurance and retirement plans, and protections from discrimination and sexual harassment for millions of workers across the country.” The task force has four goals that they wish to achieve: leading by example, facilitating worker organizing across the country, increasing worker power in underserved communities, and increasing union membership.
The recommendations of the task force were broken down into three main categories: increasing the number of available union members, helping employees make an informed decision on unionization, and ensuring the effectiveness of the collective bargaining process. A couple of ways that the report discusses making the federal government a model employer is by increasing exposure to unions during the hiring process and giving unions more access to communicate with employees.
In contrast to the public sector, the report had recommendations for the private sector such as increasing the number of people that can be defined as employees to be eligible to become a union member. It is very important to ensure that unions have access to where employees work, including federal property. The report states that, “as long as it can be done consistent with safety, security, order, and contract operations, the federal government should facilitate access to these workplaces.” There are four agencies that will help ensure “that federal contract dollars are not spent on anti-union campaigns and that the anti-union campaign activities by federal contractors are publicly disclosed.” They are the Department of Labor, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Health and Human Services.
by Manush Mirzada
Report to the President from the task force can be found at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/White-House-Task-Force-on-Worker-Organizing-and-Empowerment-Report.pdf
Fact Sheet on the Executive Order: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/04/26/fact-sheet-executive-order-establishing-the-white-house-task-force-on-worker-organizing-and-empowerment/