Organized Labor Hopes for Better Policies Under Biden Administration

Eric Galatas | Public News Service
In Colorado, union members account for just 9% of wage and salaried workers. Photo Credit: Bridgesward / Pixabay

DENVER — As President-elect Joe Biden considers his pick for labor secretary, unions in Colorado and across the U.S. are eager to leave the Trump administration in the past.

Dan Mauer, legislative director with the Communications Workers of America, said President Donald Trump’s National Labor Relation Board used every tool at its disposal to stop workers from organizing, by making it easier for companies to delay elections and, in some cases, taking workers’ right to organize away altogether.

“That’s why it’s all the more important that President-elect Biden take a lot of steps to reverse some of those trends, because otherwise, workers are going to continue to lose power, and that means losing wages and losing benefits,” Mauer said.

Biden has committed to passing the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, along with measures to incentivize workers classified as independent contractors to gain union protections. But Mauer said Tuesday’s runoff election in Georgia – which will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate – is critical, because the new administration will not be able to reverse all of Trump’s policies through executive orders.

President Donald Trump maintained strong support from blue-collar voters in November, largely because of his rejection of trade deals. Mauer acknowledged the Trump administration pulled off a bandage exposing decades-long setbacks suffered by workers, including jobs shipped overseas and the outsized role Wall Street has gained over the economy.

“Major Wall Street banks, but also private equities and hedge funds, squeeze every dollar they can out of companies, and really make it hard for companies — even the companies that want to do the right thing — to pay their workers fairly and to respect their rights and benefits,” he said.

Union membership in the U.S. has declined by nearly 20% since 1980, which Mauer pointed out also coincides with the decline of the nation’s middle class. In Colorado, union members account for just 9% of wage and salaried workers.