From the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO, to which the SIU is affiliated:
Showing once again that the Biden Administration wants to be recognized as the most union- and worker-friendly in history, the White House released its Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment report on February 7.
The 43-page document is the result of a series of meetings conducted by the task force, headed by Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Labor Secretary Martin Walsh, to gather information and ideas for possible executive actions and statements. The task force was created in April; its focus is to “assess the available tools and determine how to employ them to remove barriers to worker organizing and collective bargaining.”
The report said, “The recommendations were developed in collaboration with the over 20 executive agencies, departments and White House offices that are members of the task force. This work has been guided, too, by workers’ voices, many of whom the Vice President and Secretary of Labor met in their travels across the country.”
The report offers 70 recommendations that would “position the federal government as a model actor; use the federal government’s authority to support worker empowerment by providing information, improving transparency, and making sure existing pro-worker services are delivered in a timely and helpful manner; [and] use longstanding authority to leverage the federal government’s purchasing and spending power to support workers who are organizing and pro-worker employers.”
“The Biden-Harris Administration delivered another victory for working people today with the release of the first report,” stated AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “This unprecedented report recognizes the critical role that unions play in creating a fairer economy. By taking steps to give more workers the right to organize and bargain collectively, the administration is once again demonstrating that it is committed to using its power to support unions.”
The AFL-CIO noted the report calls for:
- Ensuring workers know organizing and bargaining rights;
- Establishing a resource center on unions and collective bargaining;
- Protecting workers who organize from illegal retaliation;
- Exposing employers’ use of anti-union consultants;
- Addressing equity across underserved communities; and
- Sharing the positive impact unions have on all workers and the U.S. economy.
Among the recommendations that could impact maritime unions is the elimination of barriers so organizers may talk with federal employees and private-sector workers of federal contractors on federal property about the benefits of joining a union. It also listed four federal agencies, including the Defense Department, which would help ensure federal contract dollars are not spent on anti-union campaigns and that anti-union campaign activities by federal contractors are publicly disclosed.
In addition, the Military2Maritime program for men and women who are leaving the armed services to become merchant mariners would benefit from a stated recommendation to “work with the Union Veterans Council to help service members, military spouses, and veterans transition into good union jobs.” (The MTD is a member of the AFL-CIO Union Veterans Council.)
Shuler said the AFL-CIO is “committed to working with the administration to implement these recommendations.” But she also called upon Congress “to pass both the Protecting the Right to Organize [PRO] Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, which will ensure that every worker who wants to join a union may freely do so.”
Biden has directed the task force to continue its work, provide an update on actions taken, and offer further recommendations in six months.
The full report is available here: