Presidents of two major international labor organizations are praising Vice President Joe Biden’s new plan to protect unions.
The plan takes a number of steps to protect workers’ rights by holding CEOs responsible for interfering with organizing efforts, ensuring employers who engage in union-busting do not receive federal dollars and going after any employer that violates labor laws, cheats on their taxes or participates in wage theft.
“Joe Biden constantly demonstrates his comfort with working families and his deep respect for workers in America,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million-strong American Federation of Teachers. “He gets workers’ need to have real voice at work, and his labor plan is evidence of that, proposing a series of pragmatic and enforceable mechanisms to strengthen that voice.”
Marc Perrone, president of the 1.3 million-member United Food and Commercial Workers also praised Biden’s plan.
“Vice President Biden’s proposal is a comprehensive plan that empowers workers, restores the opportunity for all workers to earn better wages and benefits, and protects their democratic rights to join together for a better life,” said Perrone. “Most importantly, this plan will help restore the economic balance between workers and corporate America that has been lost for decades and that has needlessly fed inequality. Now, more than ever, it is time we put the interests of working and middle class workers first, and the Vice President’s plan does just that.”
While Perrone and Weingarten had positive reviews for Biden’s union plans, neither the UFCW or the American Federation of Teachers has endorsed a candidate. Most unions have stayed neutral at this point in the primary with so many Democrats supportive of labor in the race.
Biden’s new plan incentivizes unionization and collective bargaining in order to ensure workers are treated with dignity and receive better pay and benefits. The plan begins with increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and enforcing prevailing wages.
“The former Vice President understands working people and their struggle for a better life, and that understanding comes through in this plan,” Weingarten said. “It offers protections to people who have often felt overlooked in the workplace, including graduate workers, immigrants, and contractors, and creates a clear path to make collective bargaining a right for more people.”
Biden will promote union membership and protect collective bargaining in both the public and private sectors by creating a cabinet level working group.
He’s a strong supporter of the PRO Act [Protecting the Right to Organize], which will put financial penalties on companies that interfere with organizing efforts. Biden’s plan calls for going one step further by enacting legislation making these penalties stiffer by holding CEOs personally and potentially criminally liable if they interfere in the organizing process.
What’s more, Biden will hold employers accountable who violate labor laws, participate in wage theft and cheat on their taxes by misclassifying employees as independent contractors.
His plan will reinstate the Obama-Biden Administration’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order, which ensures federal dollars will not be given to employers who engage in union-busting activities, participate in wage theft or violate the labor law by instituting a multi-year federal debarment for all employers who illegally oppose unions.
The law will require compliance checks on employers’ history following labor and employment laws before they are given federal contracts.
Weingarten said Biden’s plan will combat wage theft and “help shift the balance of power out of the hands of greedy bosses, and back into the hands of public employees, educators, and nurses the way the PRO Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act recommend.”
“It also recognizes that unions are one of the most important vehicles for people to access decent jobs, retirement security and healthcare, and it makes them stronger,” Weingarten said.
By Paige Godden