The Biden administration made its most detailed argument to date on the benefits of organized labor with a potential autoworkers’ strike looming as negotiations between the United Auto Workers and auto companies continue and the president works to convince Americans to support his “Bidenomics” vision.
The report, which Vice President Kamala Harris delivered to the president, comes days after the UAW union approved possible strikes at the country’s automakers next month if a deal can’t be reached with management as they work to win back many concessions that were made over 15 years ago. The UAW, which backed Biden in 2020, has yet to say whether they will endorse the current president, saying their members still need to see more from Biden before lending him their support..
The White House is staying abreast of the negotiations and continues to encourage both parties to come to an agreement and stay at the table, a senior official told reporters Monday.
It has been a summer heavy with union activity across a variety of industries, from Starbucks baristas to delivery drivers and manufacturers. Just last week the Teamsters union ratified a deal with UPS, securing its key negotiating goals and averting a potentially crippling strike for the US economy. The Hollywood writers and actors’ strikes also continue as they battle with the studios over how streaming services have upended the business and with AI threatening further destabilization.
The new government report, released Monday by the US Treasury, shows the administration’s argument that labor unions provide beneficial spillover effects to non-unionized workers and the broader economy, as well as help tackle challenges faced by many middle-class Americans, such as stagnant wages and high housing costs.
President Joe Biden has long been a proponent of organized labor, describing himself as the most “pro-union” president ever, and it’s a theme that features heavily in his reelection effort as the White House works to extol the benefits of Bidenomics and woo unions that have yet to endorse him. His first stop after announcing his reelection bid earlier this year was to a union conference in Washington, DC.
“This report reinforces what President Biden and I have always known to be true – union workers make our middles class and our entire economy more strong,” Harris told reporters on Monday.
Harris, who serves as the chair of the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment that commissioned the report, continued: “The president and I are building an economy where every person – not just the wealthy or well-connected – has the opportunity to thrive and simply put, that is Bidenomics.”
The Treasury Department report was commissioned by the pro-union task force, which was established in 2021 and aims to help empower workers to organize and bargain with their employers. The task force’s goals include increasing worker power in underserved communities, increasing union membership and facilitating worker organizing throughout the US.
The pro-union report finds that organized labor raises the wages of their members by 10-15%, provides union workers greater access to retirement and medical benefits, and leads to better workplace conditions and safety. The report also presents data that unions today fuel equality and can help increase productivity.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who is a labor economist by training, highlighted the findings of the report and said that they serve as a case against the argument that labor unions stifle economic growth and productivity.
“This report is the administration’s latest action to strengthen the important role of labor unions in our economy. And it’s the Treasury Department’s first major effort to lay out the rationale for why we think this is so important,” Yellen said.