On April 26, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order establishing the “White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment” (the “Task Force”), which will be dedicated to mobilizing the federal government’s policies, programs, and practices to empower workers to organize and successfully bargain with their employers.
The Task Force will be chaired by Vice President Kamala Harris, and vice-chaired by Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. In addition, the Task Force will include cabinet members and heads of various federal agencies. By including such a broad coalition of government officials as stakeholders, the Administration is taking a whole-of-government approach to empowering workers across the country.
The Executive Order is frank about its ultimate focus on boosting union organizing, citing the steady decline in union density and a “loss of worker power and voice in the workplaces and communities across the country,” all of which, the Order states have “had a host of negative consequences for American workers and the economy, including weakening and shrinking America’s middle class.”
Specifically, the Task Force is required to make a set of recommendations within 180 days addressing two key issues: First, how can existing policies, programs, and practices be used to promote worker organizing and collective bargaining in the private and public sectors? And, second, are statutory, regulatory or other changes needed to achieve the Administration’s pro-labor goals?
This newly announced Task Force is one of several steps the Biden Administration has taken to strengthen unions and empower workers. For example, in March the Administration endorsed the Protecting the Right to Organize (“PRO”) Act which, if passed by Congress, would dramatically enhance the power of workers to organize and collectively bargain with employers. Ballard Spahr’s Labor and Employment Group is following the latest White House developments and is prepared to advise employers on what changes may lie ahead.