June 11, 2021
President Biden’s “White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment,” created in April, is reportedly readying a slew of executive actions aimed at increasing union membership and bargaining power.
“Our principal focus is on finding as long a list as possible of recommendations to the President for executive action using existing authority within existing programs, policies, and practices, that would facilitate worker organizing," said Seth Harris, Deputy Assistant on Labor and the Economy to President Biden, and one of the primary drivers of the task force. Further, as first reported by Bloomberg, Harris and other staffers have been encouraging union representatives to submit proposals that can be accomplished through administrative or executive actions.
Although the executive order creating the task force set a deadline of Oct. 23 for recommendations, the above makes it increasingly likely that executive or regulatory action could come far sooner. The emphasis on executive and administrative action reflects a priority on measures than can be put in place as soon as possible, in lieu of legislative action such as the PRO Act. Such actions might include executive orders for federal contractors imposing neutrality in union organizing campaigns and making ineligible contractors with a history of unfair labor practices, among others.
Outlook: As expected, union leadership has been closely integrated into the labor task force deliberations and will have a major influence on any eventual actions taken. Given the continued opposition from Senate Republicans to the Biden administration’s legislative agenda, recommended executive and administrative actions from the labor task force may be the administration’s best chance at implementing pro-labor policy at the federal level.