Two months after the new administration, labor leaders declare Joe Biden the most productive president in their lives, “maybe when,” said Steve Rosenthal, the former political director of the AFL-CIO, in an interview.
Biden was quick to oust government officials whom unions deemed hostile to the workforce and to change Trump-era rules that weakened employee protection. He has put forward legislation that sends hundreds of billions of dollars to cities and states, aid that public sector unions deem necessary, and tens of billions to develop union pension plans.
Ironically, the president appeared in a video alluding to a union vote at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, warning that “there should be no intimidation, coercion, intimidation, anti-competitive propaganda.” An unusually obvious step in the election of the president of the standard unions.
However, Rosenthal այլ other labor advocates admit to rodent anxiety. Despite Biden’s excellent support for their movement, the unions may be in a better position when he leaves office than when he entered.
This is due to the fact that labor law gives employers considerable authority to avoid organizing unions, which is one of the reasons why union membership has collapsed in recent decades, with low levels. And Senate Republicans will try to thwart any legislative attempt, such as the PRO Act passed by the House this month, to reverse the trend.
“The PRO Act is vital,” Rosenthal said. “But what is happening now with the Republicans in Congress, the Senate philistine, is someone’s guess.”
Until recently, it was unclear whether Biden would rule in favor of such a union. Although he has long advocated for union interests, noting close ties with labor leaders, the president has maintained ties with corporate figures such as Steve Richetti, an adviser to the president who has lobbied for companies including AT&T and Eli Lilly. For years, Biden has voted for free trade agreements opposed by trade unions.
Then there’s the fact that he served as vice president in a administration that sometimes annoyed unions, as President Barack Obama did when he considered the Rhode Island school district firing under-performing school staff. Biden also led the Obama administration team that negotiated with the Republicans to reduce the deficit, which put a lot of effort into the workforce.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden’s allies and advisers argued that he was simply acting as his loyal deputy leader, that he would prove more, as a workforce, as president.
But for many hardliners, Biden exceeded expectations. Immediately after his inauguration as President, the White House requested the dismissal of Peter B., Chief Adviser to the National Labor Council. Robin, whose office enforces the labor rights of private sector workers.
Rob was deeply unpopular with the organized workforce, which made him extremely friendly to management. His term expired in November, and the presidents of both parties allowed general advisers to run for office.
But when there was no resignation from Rob on the day of the inauguration, the White House fired him.
“For those of us who cared, it was really promising and exciting to see Peter Robb’s dismissal and its sudden decline,” said Lisa Canada, political and legal director of the Michigan Carpenters’ Union.
But it is the Alabama video that most clearly highlights Biden և Obama’s labor disputes. When government officials gathered in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2011 to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to reclaim their bargaining power, union leaders asked the White House to send a senior administration official in solidarity. The White House rejected it, although Obama said the bill seemed to “attack the unions.”
“We did our best to get someone there,” said Larry Cohen, then chairman of the American Liaison Office and now chair of Our Revolutionary Advocacy Group. “They would not let anyone go.”
On the contrary, Biden seemed to want to offer his statement, which alluded to the Amazon election, which a number of working leaders urged him to submit.
“We have not seen the level of support the organization has chosen since Franklin Roosevelt,” said Cohen, who expected the Amazon announcement to encourage anti-union behavior among employers.
Still, Cohen and other labor officials said that in the absence of a change in labor law, union membership would likely follow in Biden’s footsteps, similar to the one he went through under Obama, when union share fell by about 1.5 percentage points. Overall, union membership fell from about one-third of workers in the 1950s to one-tenth today, ում in the private sector, only 6%.
“Because of growing inequality, our economy is on the path to implication,” said Richard Trumka, President of AFL-CIO. The PRO law “will increase salaries, will slow down that trajectory,” he added.
Under current law, employers can overwhelm employees with anti-competitive messages, mandatory appointments, e-mail. By mail, in the workplace, while unions often have problems accessing workers. And while it is technically illegal to threaten or fire employees who are involved in an organizational campaign, employers face minimal punishment.
Labor council cases can take years, after which the employer often only has to issue a notice promising to abide by labor law in the future, says former board chairwoman Wilma Liebman. There are no penalties for such violations, although employees can be paid in full through a refund.
The PRO law prohibits mandatory anti-union meetings, imposes fines for threatening or dismissing employees, and helps employees who end up in error to get a job back quickly. This will give the unions leverage, allowing them to boycott secondary, say, asking customers to boycott restaurants that buy food from bakeries that they are trying to unite.
Glenn Spencer, senior vice president of the US Chamber of Commerce, criticized the bill as a “radical overhaul of labor law”, saying the secondary boycott clause could be an obstacle to their goals.
“These companies have nothing to do with the nature of the labor dispute, but they suddenly get involved in it,” Spencer said.
Even in the case of legal protections under the PRO Act, it will be difficult for unions to make large-scale coverage gains, many experts say. Labor law often effectively requires workers to win union elections on one job site at a time, which could mean hundreds of separate elections on Amazon alone.
The system is “optimized to build weak labor movements,” said David Rolfe, a former vice president of the International Union of Employees, which favors trade unions and bargaining.
And the chances of passing the PRO Act are far away as long as opponents turn to the Senate Philippines, which in practice requires 60 votes to pass the legislation.
Senator F.F. Merkel, D-Ore., Appeared before the AFL-CIO Executive Board this month to file a lawsuit to dismiss some of the Feybeisters. In a statement issued after the meeting, council members called for “rapid and necessary changes” in Senate rules to remove fibers as an obstacle to progressive legislation.
After that, Biden stated that he is ready to weaken the filibuster, although it is not clear whether the PRO law will win.
Trumka said he was confident Biden would take advantage of the opportunity Obama missed when Democrats won a majority in the Senate but still failed to change labor law.
“This president understands the power of resolving inequalities through collective bargaining,” Trumka said.
But others are skeptical that Biden can speak on behalf of the unions, despite all his sincerity.
“The evidence is in the pudding,” said Ruth Milkman, a sociologist at New York City University Alumni Center. “We know where his heart is. That does not mean anything will change. “