Working People Respond to President Biden's First Year in Office

Working People Respond to President Biden’s First Year in Office

Biden's first year

Union members across the country went all out during the 2020 campaign to elect a pro-worker president to the White House. And over the past year, the Biden–Harris administration has been delivering for America’s workers. From the passage of the American Rescue Plan to the enactment of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the labor movement has made real progress working in partnership with this administration.

Here are just some of the other advances we’ve achieved in the last year:

  • President Biden fired the anti-worker National Labor Relations Board general counsel and installed a pro-worker majority on the board.
  • Union member Marty Walsh (LIUNA) was appointed to serve as secretary of labor.
  • The Biden–Harris administration created the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment.
  • President Biden used his bully pulpit to advance the causes of the labor movement, including calling for passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, supporting workers’ right to organize at Amazon and calling out Kellogg’s corporate greed during an active strike.
  • More of President Biden’s lower court judicial nominees were confirmed in his first year than any president since John Kennedy.
  • President Biden appointed more Black women to the U.S. Court of Appeals than any president in history.

As we look to the future, our sights are set on passing the Build Back Better Act, reforming America’s outdated labor laws, and protecting our basic rights and freedoms. Our job is far from over, and we’re ready to continue making progress for all working people in this country.

AFGE Shares Its Top 10 Victories in 2021:

Graphic with a list of AFGE’s Top 10 Victories in 2021. Click to view the full size graphic.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders:

The Biden–Harris administration made a promise to fight for working people. And bar none, this is the most pro-union White House in generations.

The president and the vice president share working people’s values and have governed accordingly, sticking their necks out to advance our rights and freedoms. They understand what keeps Americans up at night. They have expressed solidarity with workers trying to form unions. They have been outspoken and unapologetic in their support for collective bargaining to win better pay and benefits for all, not just the people at the top.

The American Rescue Plan, signed by President Biden just seven weeks into his term, invested hundreds of millions of dollars in public services, saving jobs and keeping our everyday heroes on the front lines. That’s on top of direct checks to working families, education funding to reopen schools safely, enhanced unemployment benefits and a whole lot more. A few months ago, President Biden signed an infrastructure bill that will create union jobs and revitalize our communities by upgrading everything from roads and public transit to water systems and broadband.

There is plenty of unfinished business. It remains critical that we expand voting rights and protect the integrity of our democracy. We have joined the president in that struggle and will continue doing everything possible to ensure fair elections that give every citizen a voice. The administration, together with its allies, must now focus its energies on passing key components of the Build Back Better Agenda, transforming millions of lives by lowering prescription drug costs and making child care more affordable, among many other things. And we still need labor law reform, making it easier for workers to organize and claim their seat at the table.

We have seen major accomplishments on behalf of working people during the first year of the Biden–Harris administration. Now, we must continue the fight for greater progress in the years to come.

American Federation of Teachers (AFT):

The AFT tweeted the following message earlier today:

“In less than one year, [President Biden] delivered a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will build our economy and country back stronger for working families with: clean drinking water, good-paying union jobs, roads and bridges, transportation, electric vehicle chargers.”

Communications Workers of America (CWA):

During his campaign, Joe Biden pledged to be the most pro-worker president in our country’s history, and he has spent the last 365 days delivering on that promise.

On his very first day in office, President Biden fired Peter Robb, Donald Trump’s union-busting National Labor Relations Board general counsel, making it clear that he stood on the side of workers, not corporations. He nominated Jennifer Abruzzo, a brilliant former CWA attorney who understands how the actions of the NLRB impact the daily lives of people at their workplaces. With Abruzzo as general counsel and the addition of Gwynne Wilcox and David Prouty to the NLRB, the Board has a pro-worker majority and is once again fulfilling its mission to protect the right of workers to join together to improve their wages and working conditions.

He appointed a union member—Marty Walsh—as Secretary of Labor, and used his executive power to strengthen Buy America requirements for federal spending, provide protections, job security, and a minimum wage increase for federal contractors, ban non-compete agreements that limit job opportunities, and ensure that jobs and wages are taken into account during banking mergers. Throughout the Biden administration, union leaders and activists are being invited to share information and expertise to help shape policies that affect working people.

President Biden established a Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, led by Vice President Kamala Harris. He has used his bully pulpit to encourage workers to join unions and to demand that companies stop bringing in scabs when workers go on strike.

President Biden has had two monumental legislative victories in his first year: the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The American Rescue Plan provided critical funding to keep workers safe, protect jobs, and stabilize the pensions we’ve earned. It extended the successful payroll support program, directing money toward saving thousands of airline jobs instead of sending it into the pockets of executives and shareholders. Funding from the bill is being used to provide premium pay for essential state and local government workers and to invest in broadband infrastructure.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will transform our lives, finally addressing much needed repair and improvements to our roads, bridges, airports, and utilities. The bill supports the expansion and affordability of broadband and prioritizes broadband projects from employers who follow labor law. All of this investment means more jobs, not just during the buildout phase, but because the new infrastructure will create new opportunities.

While President Biden has laid a strong foundation, much remains to be done. The COVID pandemic has disrupted our lives, and over a million women have left the workforce, many because of a lack of affordable childcare options. Workers are organizing for better pay and working conditions, but weak and outdated labor laws make it much too difficult for them to build power by joining unions. With each passing day the potential impact of climate change grows more severe.

President Biden’s worker-centered Build Back Better plan would address these problems, but it remains mired in the U.S. Senate, trapped by arcane rules and procedures, including the filibuster, that allow a small number of Senators to block policies supported by large majorities of Americans.

As we enter the second year of the Biden presidency, we must use our voices and our votes to build on the progress that we have made and empower working people to make lasting change by passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act.

Electrical Workers (IBEW) International President Lonnie Stephenson:

On the campaign trail and throughout his presidency, Joe Biden has promised to be the most pro-union, pro-worker president in history. As President Biden celebrates his first year in office, I can say with confidence his actions are matching his words.

During his first year in office, President Biden took significant and historic steps to promote, protect, and enhance the rights of working people, including IBEW members. He appointed a union member to lead the Department of Labor. He created the first-ever White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment. He ordered the federal government to spend taxpayer dollars on American goods made by American workers, and he signed dozens of executive orders that promote worker-friendly policies, including those that create good jobs in the energy sector.

Among other significant achievements, President Biden signed into law the historic $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which provided working families the financial support they needed to make it through the pandemic. Included in this legislation is the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act, which saved pensions for millions, ensuring that those who work for a living will retire with the dignity they were promised.

And he signed into law the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the single largest investment in infrastructure in American history. This once-in-a-generation investment in infrastructure will put millions to work in good union jobs modernizing the electric grid, repairing and expanding the vital transportation services Americans rely on, and creating the reduced-carbon energy solutions that will power our economy well into the 21st century and beyond.

On behalf of the IBEW’s 775,000 active and retired members, I applaud President Biden on these achievements and thank him for prioritizing the needs of working families.

Machinists (IAM) International President Robert Martinez Jr.:

The Biden–Harris administration’s policies are good for working families, including IAM members who have benefited from the actions of this administration. When I met with the administration at the beginning of their term, I advocated for investment in infrastructure that will benefit American workers and communities. President Biden kept his promise to strengthen Buy American laws and support extending much-needed economic relief to all workers, including our members in the airlines, manufacturing and transportation industries. The IAM looks forward to continuing to work with the Biden–Harris administration to move the pro-worker, pro-democracy agenda.

Click here to read more from the IAM.

Masters, Mates & Pilots (MM&P) International President Don Marcus:

The women and men of the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots thank President Biden and his administration for their untiring efforts to bring common decency, common sense and common good back to the federal government. President Biden recognizes that the labor movement is the last bastion of both working people and democracy itself. Thank you, President Biden, for standing up for equality, democracy and humanity.

Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU):

We are now one year into the most pro-union presidential administration in modern history. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, and we still have a long way to go. But there have already been concrete wins for working people in spite of relentless obstruction and anti-worker animus among many members of Congress.

We now have a pro-worker majority at the National Labor Relations Board. We have a union sibling, Secretary Marty Walsh, at the helm of the Department of Labor. And with the American Rescue Plan, $1.9 trillion has been released to states and localities to spend on COVID mitigation, infrastructure and more.

Though we still have a long way to go to enact the rest of our legislative priorities — passing pro-worker legislation like the PRO Act, the outright cancellation of student debt, strengthening of voting rights and implementation of Build Back Better — we have much to be proud of.

Plasterers and Cement Masons (OPCMIA) General President Dan Stepano:

In just his first year in office, President Joe Biden has already made history.

He signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law, the largest investment ever made in our infrastructure, an achievement that eluded his predecessor. This urgently-needed bill will create 1.5 million jobs, including many for OPCMIA members. No president in my lifetime has done more to create good work for our brothers and sisters.

That alone would be enough to rank him among the best presidents ever. But he has done much more.

President Biden saved our members’ retirement security when he signed the historic $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which included the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act. In addition to ensuring that OPCMIA members will be able to retire with the dignity they were promised, the law helped ease the burden of the COVID pandemic, created jobs, reduced poverty, fed families, and provided urgently-needed relief for those who were suffering.

President Biden has been the most pro-union, pro-worker president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He appointed a building trades union member as Secretary of Labor. He created the first-ever White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment. On his first day in office, he fired the union-busting general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. And he restored collective bargaining rights to federal employees.

Plus, President Biden got more federal judges confirmed in his first year in office than any president in 40 years, and all are far more likely to side with workers than management.

To top it all off, President Biden’s first year saw the creation of more than 6 million jobs, the best record of any president in history. The unemployment rate dropped from 6.2 percent to 3.9 percent, the biggest single-year drop in history. Unemployment claims dropped from 18 million to just 2 million. Nearly 5 million Americans gained health care coverage. And child poverty dropped to what is expected to be the lowest level ever.

In contrast to the naysayers in the news media and the lies spread by devotees of the former president, Joe Biden has kept his promises—and he did it with no margin for error in Congress. There remains much to be done, and many more obstacles to hurdle, but on the one-year anniversary of his inauguration, let’s give credit where credit is due: President Biden has delivered for America’s working families.

School Administrators (AFSA) President Ernest Logan:

While entering office in the middle of national turmoil, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., the 46th president of these great United States, honored and delivered the promises he made to educators during the campaign.

We measure candidates and elected officials by their actions that impact our professions and the education we can deliver to the children we serve, and in both cases, I am proud to say that Joe Biden is the “Best Education President.”

President Biden advocated and fought for the federal government to provide the most money and resources ever to our nation’s children and the schools that serve them through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Not only are the funds designed to help solve issues around COVID-19, but there are assets for forward thinking ideas, including dollars to build new school infrastructure, capital to overcome the challenges of the digital divide, assistance in training the next generation of school leaders and a strong focus on early childhood education, just to name a few.

Unfortunately, many school districts around the country have not yet used these resources as intended and persist in locking out the voices of school leaders on decisions to use these incredible funding resources. Until the people who are tasked to run schools have a stronger voice at the table in every community, parent and voter frustrations will continue. The President has more than done his part; now it is time for school districts to do theirs.

Seafarers (SIU) President Michael Sacco:

We applaud President Biden’s strong support of the U.S. Merchant Marine, including the Jones Act, and are grateful to have a pro-union leader at the helm. He took office at an incredibly difficult moment and has risen to the occasion. We look forward to continuing to work with his administration.

UAW President Ray Curry:

President Joe Biden has always been an unwavering friend to labor and the working men and women of this nation. In his first days in office, he signed an executive order to enforce the Buy American initiative and enhance critical supply chains. He heard the pain and worry of millions of Americans from coast to coast as we battled this terrible pandemic and answered with the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) to give families a lifeline in an unprecedented time of need and ensure that life-saving vaccines were available. He continues to work every day to protect all of our families during this pandemic. He understands how important it is to our country and our communities to strengthen the labor movement and has pushed for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act to level the playing field for workers who want to join a union. And he is committed to the smart transition to a new model of mobility and manufacturing. That is why he is insisting that as we shift to electric vehicle technology, government investments are tied to good-paying union jobs. He knows that if we do this right, the environment and workers can both win.

President Biden was also successful when other Administrations repeatedly failed to pass a bipartisan infrastructure package to fix the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges, waterways and airports. Under his leadership, he advanced numerous provisions aimed at ensuring the infrastructure plan produces good-paying jobs with strong labor standards. And he is committed, despite the opposition who would seek to keep millions from the polls, to protect our voice in our democracy through passage of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. This legislation will restore key protections of the Voting Rights Act, which have been eroded by anti-democracy forces.

As a union leader and on behalf of our UAW family, we are honored to mark this milestone day in the Biden Administration and say unequivocally that we have a President who is proud to say the word “union” and back it up with actions, deeds and courage.

UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor:

Today marks one year since the inauguration of the most pro-union federal government in recent memory. Let us take stock of what that has meant for workers.

In this marker moment for organizing, we saw a sitting President weigh in on an active strike campaign in favor of workers. But actions speak louder than words. We are just one-year into a four-year term, but this year has been a world of difference from the previous administration that blatantly prioritized the needs of rich corporations and billionaires over workers and families amid a global pandemic.

Under the Biden–Harris administration, we have seen swift action to ensure key cabinets and agencies are headed by pro-worker leadership—including an actual labor leader heading the Department of Labor—with the backing and direction to advance the policies that will change lives. We also saw the passage of one of the most transformational pieces of legislation via the American Rescue Plan that for months helped keep some cash in people’s pockets while allowing for tens of thousands of laid-off workers to access free healthcare through 100% COBRA coverage.

Now, it is 2022—and Midterm elections are around the corner. Our members are going to be asking themselves if they are better off than they were before voting for this President. Looking ahead, this administration must do whatever it takes to fulfill critical campaign promises.

One of the most urgent needs for the Biden–Harris administration is to move the #BuildBackBetter Agenda forward. This includes pushing for its full passage as one package—or breaking it up so that we can have folks on the record on every issue. Working people need to see their elected leaders fighting to get something done—and calling the question on the issues that matter—so we can hold these politicians accountable in November.

TTD Celebrates a Year of Victories for Transportation Labor:

The Transportation Trades Department (TTD), AFL-CIO, led by President Greg Regan and Secretary-Treasurer Shari Semelsberger, commended the achievements of the Biden administration’s first year in office, calling it “a capstone year of legislative victories for transportation labor unions and working people.” The alliance of 36 transportation unions highlighted a wide range of accomplishments, including the establishment of the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, passage of the American Rescue Plan, recognition of the essential work that transportation workers have performed throughout the pandemic and implementation of the largest infrastructure investment in American history.

Kenneth Quinnell
Fri, 01/21/2022 – 10:36

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Updated: January 31, 2022 — 12:56 pm