Employment Law Update: White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment Activated to Promote Union Access to Employees
On April 26, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment (“the Task Force”) to encourage worker organizing and collective bargaining, and to promote equality of bargaining power between employers and employees. Vice President Kamala Harris will chair the Task Force and Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh will serve as Vice Chair. In addition, more than 20 government officials and heads of departments will serve as members.
The Task Force’s Objectives
The Task Force has four main goals:
- Lead by example. The Task Force will put into practice policies and procedures that will make the federal government a model of worker organization and collective bargaining.
- Facilitate worker organizing across the country. The Task Force will utilize the power of the federal government to put into place policies and practices to encourage employee organization and collective bargaining.
- Increase worker power in underserved communities. The Task Force will brainstorm solutions to the challenges faced in organizing unions by women and people of color, those who work in states with restrictive labor laws (such as Right to Work states), and those who work in certain industries that have been historically hostile to unionization.
- Increase Union Membership. The Task Force will attempt to increase unionization throughout the United States to “grow a more inclusive middle class and provide workers the opportunity to come together for the purpose of mutual advancement, the dignity of worker and workers, respect, and the fair compensation they deserve.”
Change from the Trump Administration
The endorsement by the Biden Administration to endorse the Protecting the Right to Organize Act and other labor law reform bills is a dramatic change from President Trump’s administration, which had issued Executive Orders that attempted to reduce unionization activity and bargaining rights for federal employees. In 2021, President Biden revoked those Executive Orders.
The Task Force will make statutory and regulatory recommendations to help employees to organize and bargain collectively, so employers should expect to see new legislation and regulation later this year. The first recommendations of The Task Force are to be delivered within 180 days.
TAKEAWAY: Employers should prepare for increased unionization efforts by their workforces.
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