President Biden’s Union Record

By David Radtke, UWUA General Counsel

When Joe Biden ran for President he said that if elected he would be the most pro-union President in history. It’s now been nearly 3 years since he took office, so we have a pretty good idea as to whether that statement is true or not.

On day one of his presidency, January 20, 2021, Biden fired Peter Robb, the most anti-union NLRB General Counsel in its history, and replaced him with Jennifer Abruzzo, the most pro-union NLRB General Counsel in its history. Since then, President Biden appointed Gwynne Wilcox and David Prouty to the NLRB, both are former union lawyers, which gave the NLRB a pro-union majority. He also appointed incumbent Democrat Board Member Lauren McFerran as chair of the Board.

General Counsel Abruzzo and the three Democratic members of the NLRB have made significant changes in federal labor law to make it easier for unions to organize workers, engage in more effective strikes, and bargain better contracts. They’ve also stopped employers from unilaterally implementing terms on workers and imposed more effective, stronger penalties on employers that violate workers’ rights. These actions by the Board have put the law back on the side of workers who want to join unions and fight for better contracts.

The pro-union NLRB is one reason that more workers are organizing unions than they have in decades. NLRB election petitions are way up, and unions are winning elections at an unprecedented pace. In the first six months of 2023 unions won 80% of elections held by the NLRB, including 18 of 19 in bargaining units larger than 500. These victories added nearly 60,000 new union members in just six months. The American public stands strongly behind workers and unions. Recent polling shows that over 70% of Americans have a favorable view of unions and an even higher number supported the UAW’s recent strikes against Detroit’s Big Three automakers.

Unions have been able to secure better contracts through protected concerted activity and strikes in the last three years. We have seen it with the Teamsters contract victory at UPS, the successful Screen Writers strike, and the UAW’s landmark strikes and contracts with the automakers. We have also seen great contracts in our union, including first contracts with Delta Gas in Kentucky and Liberty Gas in Georgia. Both of these contracts won these new UWUA members huge wage and benefits gains.

The President has appointed pro-union officials throughout his administration. President Biden’s first Secretary of Labor, Marty Walsh, was a rank and file member and labor leader. The head of the DOL’s agency that oversees union elections, finances and union buster reports is a former union lawyer. President Biden created a Taskforce on Worker Organizing and Empowerment to ensure that labor unions are a part of every decision that comes out of the White House. President Biden also appointed Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court. Justice Jackson has a history of pro-union and pro-worker decisions during her time on the federal bench. On the Supreme Court, she wrote a well-reasoned, strident dissent to a decision by the majority that negatively impacts a union’s right to strike.

President Biden is proudly pro-union. In September 2023, he walked the picket line with the UAW in Michigan in support of its strikes against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. No other U.S. president has ever walked a union picket line. President Biden meets with labor leaders and union members on a regular basis. He supports comprehensive labor law reform making it easier to join unions and opposes so called right-to-work laws. He has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO and virtually all of its affiliates.

In 2022 President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act which, among many other things, will rebuild our faltering infrastructure. To ensure that that the infrastructure is built union and that the workers who operate and maintain the energy transition are union, the Administration has put forth rules to mandate and encourage that these jobs be union. No President has worked harder to ensure that public projects and energy projects are pro-worker and pro-union than Joe Biden.

The UWUA understands that our members have a wide range of political views, and we respect that some members have different priorities in choosing a candidate. But as a labor union we are most concerned about an elected official’s record on labor and workers’ rights. In evaluating President Biden’s record, he gets very high marks.