Joe Biden’s promises to labor


Former vice president Joe Biden met with AFL-CIO president Rich Trumka Labor Day for a live online discussion.

By Don McIntosh

On Labor Day, about 3,400 people watched a live conversation hosted on Facebook by the national AFL-CIO in which Biden responded to videotaped questions from union members. A Trump campaign Twitter account pointed out afterward that it seemed like Biden was reading the responses from a teleprompter. But scripted or not, the promises were real, and they track the pledges outlined at Altogether, they’re the most pro-labor campaign planks of any Democratic presidential nominee in generations. Biden is endorsed by every major national union, including the national AFL-CIO and all its affiliates. If he wins, they’ll work to hold him to the following promises:

  • Support the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. Passed by the House this year, but killed in the Senate, it’s the biggest pro-worker labor law reform in over 80 years. It provides tougher penalties when employers fire union supporters, ends employers’ ability to delay union elections, bars employers from holding “captive audience” anti-union meetings, requires greater disclosure when employers hire union-busting consultants, implements binding arbitration for first contracts when union and employers can’t reach agreement, bans permanent replacement of strikers, allows unions to wage secondary boycotts, and eliminates so-called “right-to-work” laws that prohibit union contracts that require workers to share a union’s costs.
  • Support the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act. It would guarantee a minimum level of union rights for public employees at the state and local levels.
  • Promote union organizing. He proposes to create a cabinet-level working group, with representatives from labor, to focus on promoting union organizing and collective bargaining.
  • Support the Butch Lewis Act to rescue failing union pensions. About a million workers are in union pensions that are failing through no fault of their own. A bill to loan them money passed the House last year but died in the Senate.
  • Increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
  • Bar companies from bidding on federal contracts if they break the law to fight unions.
  • Support legislation to extend union rights to farmworkers, domestic workers, and independent contractors.
  • Restore federal worker union rights that Trump eliminated by executive order.



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