President Biden grabbed headlines on his first day in office by first asking for the resignation of, then firing, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, Peter Robb. Biden has also reversed Trump executive orders which curtailed the rights of federal workers and their unions, and has suspended the implementation of a rule issued by the Department of Labor on January 7 which would have made it easier for employers to classify their workers as independent contractors rather than employees.
UE Political Action Updates
The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, a bill to restore workers’ right to organize unions and bargain collectively, was re-introduced into Congress yesterday by Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) and a group of other Democratic congresspeople and senators. Call your representatives and senators today at (202) 224-3121 and demand that they co-sponsor this important piece of legislation!
Our nation is at a crossroads. Forty years of continued assault on working-class living standards have eroded working people’s faith in government. Corporations have attacked wages and benefits, destroyed good jobs, busted unions, and devastated whole communities through plant closings. Meanwhile, politicians of both parties have pursued privatization and deregulation, doing their best to turn government from an instrument for the public good into an opportunity for private gain — for themselves and their wealthy friends.
The Raise the Wage Act, which would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 over the next four years, was re-introduced into Congress today. The federal minimum wage of $7.25 has not been increased since 2009 — the longest period without a raise since the minimum wage was established by the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938.
UE unequivocally condemns the violent attempts by a group of supporters of President Trump to disrupt the certification of the electoral college results in Washington, DC yesterday. This was an attempt by a small group of extremists to overturn a democratic election in which record numbers of U.S. citizens participated. This assault on democracy also threatened the safety of thousands of public employees who work in the capitol.
On December 10, the Congressional Budget Office released a new estimate of the cost of Medicare for All, finding that overall health costs would decline between $42 and $743 billion per year. The CBO found that administrative costs under Medicare for All would not only be vastly lower than the costs of our current chaotic “system” of private insurance, they would be even lower than Medicare’s current administrative costs of two percent.
The nomination of Katherine Tai for U.S. Trade Representative is a positive step. Tai led negotiations over NAFTA 2.0 for the Democratic majority in Congress, helping to strengthen provisions in the new agreement that protect Mexican workers’ ability to form independent unions and negotiate for better pay and benefits. However, it remains to be seen how much Tai, and the Biden administration, are committed to policies that raise the wages and working conditions of workers in all countries.
The 2021 Medicare for All Strategy Conference, co-sponsored by the Labor Campaign for Single Payer, will be held online on January 23 and 24, 2021. All UE local leaders are urged to consider attending. The early-bird registration price of $35 is only available until December 18, so we urge you to register as soon as possible.
Since the pandemic began, more than 60 million Americans have filed for unemployment. Congress must act now, or millions more workers will lose their jobs without a safety net to catch them. Make plans to join the December 1 Day of Action for #ReliefNow by calling your senators at (202) 224-3121 to demand relief. Or join in-person events in Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston sponsored by the Association of Flights Attendants.
Biden’s victory owes more than a little to the efforts of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, whose presidential bid UE endorsed at the 2019 convention. Despite being forced out of the race after the Democratic Party establishment coalesced around Biden, Sanders brought his grassroots campaigning style to the general election, echoing UE’s message that although Biden is a flawed candidate, it was critical to defeat Trump. UE members and officers participated in a number of Sanders’ campaign events.