Biden to Focus on Public Sector Unions First?

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All indications are that the Biden administration will be the most pro-labor one since at least Harry Truman’s. Biden has promised to defer to labor leaders on pretty much everything. The early signs are that he’ll follow through with that, with an emphasis on empowering the ones that represent government workers.

“I made it clear to corporate leaders. I said, ‘I want you to know that I am union guy. Unions will have increased power,’” Biden said Monday. He said his administration’s plan was to “create millions of good-paying union jobs.” Not jobs in general, but specifically union ones

The following day the Biden-Harris campaign announced their “agency review teams” to advise them on the transition. The one for the Labor Department includes representatives from four major unions: Communication Workers of America (CWA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Amalgamated Transit Union International, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Also represented were union-allied organizations like the Solidarity Center, the nonprofit National Employment Law Project, the nonprofit Center for American Progress, the coalition group National Day Laborer’s Organizing Network, and a representative of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’s office.

No major employers are on the team and, tellingly, all four of the unions represent public sector workers, though SEIU and CWA also represent private sector workers as well. Nevertheless, the absence of any union that primarily represents workers in private industry is a bit of surprising since Biden has promised to boost jobs in manufacturing. Instead, the next administration’s focus may be on empowering government workers.

They’ll have no shortage of advice. The National Treasury Employees Union released a 141-page “2020 Transition Recommendations” paper that calls for reversing all Trump executive orders reining in public sector unions; purging the little-known  Federal Service Impasses Panel, an arbitration board that resolves stall collective bargaining negotiations, of all Trump appointees, among other firings; and includes a pre-written executive order to allow Biden to follow through with those recommendations.