A newly created White House task force focused on worker organizing and empowerment met Thursday for the second time in a gathering hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris, where the group discussed its new recommendations on how to improve workers’ ability to unionize.
The vice president was joined by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, who is the group's vice chair, and several other U.S. Cabinet members who are part of the task force. President Joe Biden established the group in April as a way to champion workers’ rights and boost labor unions, and it consists of 20 Cabinet members and heads of agencies.
Biden has painted himself as a “union president” and his administration as the most pro-labor in modern history.
“Someone pointed out to me that I allegedly have used the word ‘union’ as president more than the last seven presidents combined,” Biden joked in Michigan on Tuesday while visiting the Union Of Operating Engineers Local 324 training facility. “You’ve built the country.”
The report discussed Thursday, which will be submitted to the president on Oct. 23, is meant to provide “recommendations for executive actions that will address many of the barriers workers face when they try to organize,” according to the vice president’s office.
“When our unions are strong, the American people are strong, and America’s economy is strong,” Harris said at the beginning of the meeting in her ceremonial office.
“That is why we want this task force to empower the worker and to increase union density in our nation by leveraging the executive authority that we already have,” she added. “When we release this report, it will be evident the commitments that we are making.”
Harris said Thursday that the report will show that it has not always been easy for workers to organize, that the federal government has the power to make several key changes and that those changes will touch “every sector of employment.”
Joining the vice president and labor secretary Thursday were Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and several other top administration officials.
“For someone whose family’s American dream was made possible by organizing … I want to say thank you for that,” Walsh said. “(The report) is also going to show that the Biden administration is taking concrete steps to put power back in the hands of working people.
“Probably one of the biggest challenges that we have is making sure we are creating opportunities for young people of color to get into the workforce,” he added. “There's more work to do.”