By Amanda Menas
When unions are strong, our communities are strong. This is a long-held belief of former Vice President Joe Biden, who supports “laws that allow labor unions to flourish and fight for basic worker protections.” He knows that it was labor unions that led the fight for working families, winning protections such as the 8-hour day and the 40-hour week, overtime rights, and access to health care and retirement security.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has knocked down many working families and small businesses, causing millions to lose jobs and healthcare, Biden has led with plans to protect all Americans from increased hardships. His Jobs and Economic Recovery Plan for Working Families addresses issues that were present long before the crisis, which disproportionately impact communities of color who have never been fully welcomed as participants in the economy or compensated equitably.
Workers in unions earn higher wages and are more likely to have employer-covered health coverage. President Donald Trump claims to align himself with workers, but supports “decreased labor protections, rolled back worker safety and weakened federal unions.” He has appointed anti-union judges and cabinet secretaries with life-long track records of fighting against working Americans. His education secretary, Betsy DeVos, has time and again tried to limit the voice of educators and educator unions since she was confirmed.
Here are four ways Joe Biden and running mate Sen. Kamala Harris will protect workers’ rights:
He will support collective bargaining legislation
Joe Biden believes “the federal government should not only defend workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively, but also encourage collective bargaining.” As president, he plans to make it easier for all workers to unionize and supports educators being able to bargain for better pay and benefits in addition to having a voice in decisions that affect their students.
He supports #RedForEd and closing the teacher pay gap
“These walkouts are vital,” said the former vice president of the #RedForEd movement. “Not just to make sure you get paid fairly, or you get health care…you’re walking out to make sure your students have greater resources, that they have the right books that they have the right classrooms that they have internet that they have the things that are going to allow them to succeed in ways that you know but most people don’t figure out.” He has also commended “educators around the country” for taking action “for the resources they need to serve their students.”
Biden promises to “make sure teachers receive a competitive wage and benefits” and the “dignity they deserve.” He has proposed tripling federal funding for Title I to help school districts offer educators competitive salaries.
Sen. Harris also supported the #RedForEd educator strikes in Los Angeles and Oakland in 2019, and has advocated for eliminating the teacher pay gap to help recruit and retain educators.
He believes educators should have a strong voice
As president, Joe Biden has pledged to create a cabinet-level working group to promote unions, “to ensure public sector workers, including public school educators, have a greater voice in the decisions that impact their students and their work conditions.” He has also said that along with his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, an educator and NEA member, “We’re going to have someone in the White House you can trust, someone you can depend on to fight for educators and fight for unions because that’s what I’ve been doing my entire life.”
He will help educators prepare for retirement
The former vice president plans to raise the payroll tax earnings cap and taxing the wealthy to help support Social Security. He also supports “letting public sector workers, including teachers who are not eligible for Social Security, to begin receiving pension benefits sooner than the 10 years that many of their plans currently require.” In expanding benefits, he would ensure payments keep recipients above the poverty line, and he would also increase assistance for widows and widowers.