White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment
Coming over three months late, a report from the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment was finally released on February 7, 2022. The task force recommends some 70 actions the federal government can take to increase union membership rather than promote the interests of workers.
When setting the scene for their recommendations, the task force complains that card check union organizing campaigns are not required, right to work laws allow private-sector workers to opt out of a union, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus decision allows the same for public-sector workers. Card check is when union organizers use public card sign-ups that expose workers to intimidation tactics rather than using a secret ballot election.
The report notes the task force met with “dozens of unions, employers, worker advocacy organizations, academics, labor agency officials, business leaders, and other Stakeholders”.
In response to the report’s release, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the senior Republican on the House Committee on Education and Workforce, said:
“It’s truly baffling to watch a President openly collude with anti-worker groups to identify government actions which will provide union bosses with more power and ensure Democrats are more thoroughly entrenched in the Big Labor movement. Democrats lack the moral compass to defend our freedoms, choosing instead to follow the flow of campaign donations. But hardworking Americans are drowning under a tsunami of new, burdensome regulations, and this report is akin to tying bricks to their feet.”
The report first calls for Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act which would eliminate worker freedom in the private and public sectors, respectively. The PRO Act would also harm independent contractors and job creators.
For the executive branch agencies, the task force recommends actions that increase unionization of federal employees and contractors, increase federal reporting requirements on employers, and use the administration’s bully pulpit to promote unionization in all sectors across the country. Some of these steps are already regularly seen, such as placing union representatives on federal advisory panels or supporting union-like worker centers. Others are more novel, such as creating a federal resource guide promoting unionization of small businesses.
Other recommendations for executive actions from the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment include:
- “Implement a suite of strategies” to help all federal employees join a union (p. 17)
- Give union organizers access to private-sector contractors working on federal property (p. 21)
- Unionize the TSA screening workforce (p. 20)
- Use federal resources to facilitate collective bargaining for employees that unionize (p. 21 & 41)
- Increase reporting and disclosures businesses must file relating to union organizing campaigns (p. 23)
- A “Know Your Rights Initiative” on union organizing (p. 24)
- Education farmworkers about joining a union (p. 26)
- Small Business Administration to create a resource guide to help small businesses unionize (p. 26)
- Department of Labor to create a “Bully Pulpit Resource Center” for the entire executive branch to promote unionization (p. 26)
- Stifle the growing gig economy and independent contractors (p. 29)
The full list of task force recommendations can be found here, and a follow-up report is promised within six months.
For more information and backgrounders on issues covered in the task force report, please see the following: