The White House on Thursday launched an effort to increase the number of American workers belonging to unions, address income inequality and redress a power imbalance that favors employers.
The agenda was unveiled at the first meeting of President Joe Biden’s labor task force, which he created in April.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who leads the group, said the work was a high priority for the administration. “When there are more union members, there is less income inequality,” she said.
Harris also said the COVID-19 pandemic exposed fractures in the system designed to protect worker rights. “For whom things were bad, today they’re even worse.” she said.
A White House official told Reuters that between 1979 and 2020, the percentage of American workers represented by a union dropped by 14.9 percentage points. According to analysts, because of that drop American workers are losing out on $200 billion a year in wages and benefits they could have achieved under union contracts, the official said.
Among the many barriers to unionization, employers may require U.S. workers to attend mandatory anti-union meetings. Workers may face surveillance and even intimidation from their employers in their campaign to win union representation.