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New White House Report Promotes Labor Unions

Only 10% of U.S. workforce represented by a union

February 9, 2022

U.S. workers need to know their organizing and bargaining rights, according to a report released this week by the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment.

The report highlighted low union participation among public and private sector workers, and included recommendations on how the U.S. government can help workers join labor unions and bargain collectively, Reuters reported.

The task force report found more than 300,000 employees in the federal government, the country’s largest employer, are eligible to join a union but have not. Only 10.3% of the U.S. workforce was represented by a union in 2021, down from more than 30% in the 1950s. The numbers are lower for private-sector employees, with union membership falling to 6.1% in 2021 from 16.8% in 1983.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will work across agencies to implement the task force’s recommendations, including:

  • Ensuring workers know their organizing and bargaining rights
  • Protecting workers who face illegal retaliation when they organize and stand up for workplace rights
  • Establishing a resource center on unions and collective bargaining
  • Shedding light on employer’s use of anti-union consultants
  • Collecting and reporting more information on unions and their role in the U.S. economy
  • Advancing equity across underserved communities by supporting worker organizing and collective bargaining.

The report also asks the DOL to ensure that workers who face retaliation for organizing receive full protection. And it asks the DOL to take action to prevent the misclassification of workers as independent contractors.

“Workers today are demanding more from their jobs, and we know the freedom to exercise their right to collective bargaining is a key component of our efforts to improve working conditions across the economy,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh.

The task force will submit a second report in six months, describe its progress in implementing the report’s recommendations.

 

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