As Worker Actions Continue Nationwide, White House Highlights How Administration is Helping Unions

Striking writers and actors
FILE – Striking writers and actors picket outside Paramount studios in Los Angeles on Friday, July 14, 2023. As worker actions continue from Hollywood to Detroit, and new labor unions crop up at firms like Starbucks and Amazon, the White House on Monday was highlighting its effort to bolster worker organizing throughout the U.S. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

By FATIMA HUSSEIN Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — As worker actions continue from Hollywood to Detroit, and new labor unions crop up at firms
like Starbucks and Amazon, the White House on Monday was highlighting its effort to bolster worker organizing
throughout the U.S.

President Joe Biden is counting on critical labor support as he campaigns for a second term in office, holding
his first re-election campaign rally at a Pennsylvania union hall in June, declaring: “I’m proud to be the most
pro-union president in American history.” The White House and Treasury on Monday issued a joint analysis on what
the administration sees as the importance of unions, and also the White House efforts to safeguard and bolster

There is “evidence that unions strengthen the middle class and grow the economy” by raising wages of members and
improving health care, retirement and predictable scheduling plan benefits, according to the analysis.

“There have been recent signs of a reinvigorated labor movement, as union election petitions in 2022 bounced back
from the pandemic to their highest level since 2015,” the analysis says “and public opinion of labor unions is at
its highest level in over 50 years.”

Vice President Kamala Harris, who leads the White House Labor Task Force, created to work with federal agencies
to use their existing authority to support labor organizing and bargaining, told reporters unions were critically

“When union workers bargain for higher pay, it increases pressure on non-union companies to raise pay as well to
stay competitive in the labor market,” she said.

The administration’s show of support comes as unprecedented worker organizing — from strike authorizations to
work stoppages — hit multiple industries this year, including, transportation, entertainment, hospitality and

Workers calling for higher wages, better working conditions and job security, especially since the end of the
pandemic, have been increasingly willing to walk out on the job as employers face a greater need for workers.

The Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations Labor Action Tracker logged 424 work stoppages — which
includes 417 strikes and seven lockouts — involving approximately 224,000 workers in 2022.

Despite the coverage of strikes and an administration that claims it is friendlier to unions, membership numbers
are still waning nationally. A January BLS report states that 11.3 percent of U.S. workers were represented by a
union in 2022, down by 0.3 percent from a year ago. Globalization, automation and the deterioration of legal
support to workers over decades has brought down union participation numbers, administration officials said.

Hollywood writers have been striking since early May and have not yet made a deal with the studios. Starbucks
workers have unionized at more than 350 stores across the country and a collection of Amazon workers have joined
the International Brotherhood of the Teamsters, in hopes of gaining union recognition.

Most recently, auto workers represented by the United Auto Workers union— which still has not endorsed Biden’s
2024 presidential run — voted overwhelmingly to give leaders the authority to call strikes against Detroit car
companies Stellantis, General Motors and Ford if a contract agreement isn’t reached.

The contract is set to expire in September.

Since Biden took office, the administration has implemented a slew of executive orders, made it easier for union
representatives to organize on federal property, and strengthened retaliation protections for private sector

The nation’s top labor organizations, including the AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers and the American
Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, have endorsed Biden’s 2024 campaign.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the administration’s findings on unions “challenge arguments that unions
hold back growth.”

“Unions could contribute to reversing the stark increase in inequality we’ve seen in recent decades, promoting
economy-wide growth,” she said.


AP, Justice & Poverty, News
AP, Justice & Poverty, Justice & Poverty, News