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The Biden Administration's Pro-Union Agenda

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White House Task Force Report

On February 7, 2022, the Biden administration published its roadmap for encouraging and supporting union organizing in private and federal employment by executive actions that do not require any Congressional approval. The roadmap was issued in a 43-page report by the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, chaired by Vice-President Kamala Harris and the Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh.

The report itself contains no new requirements and imposes no new obligations. Rather, it directs federal agencies to develop regulations and contract policies and terms that support union organizing. The report directs agencies to target private employers who are federal contractors, who work on federal lands, or who administer programs supported by federal funds.

The agencies are to take steps to ensure that private employers:

  • Give union organizers access to employees in order to obtain cards authorizing union representation, and;
  • Ensure that employees get notice of worker rights through publishing information on websites or in worksite notices.

Federal agencies are also tasked with:

  • Facilitating first contracts for employees who organize a union by strengthening provisions related to mediation or arbitration of disputes,
  • Enhancing and aggressively enforcing rules requiring the disclosure of expenditures for anti-union persuaders; and
  • Excluding money spent on anti-union persuaders from being added to cost of business under cost-plus contracts, restricting the ability to treat such costs as reimbursable expenses in certain programs or as business tax deductions.

In implementing the roadmap, federal agencies will impose new rules and obligations on private employers subject to federal agency direction. Watch this space for updates as new rules or obligations arise.

Project Labor Agreements

In addition, the Biden administration announced in February new Executive Order 14063 requiring Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for all federal construction projects costing more than $35 million. The order excludes projects funded by grants to non-federal agencies and describes several other exceptions. PLAs may not be required when they “would not advance the Federal Government’s interests in achieving economy and efficiency in Federal procurement;” “would substantially reduce the number of potential bidders;” or “would otherwise be inconsistent with” other federal law and policy.