Biden pledges to roll back Trump’s workforce policies

The Democratic candidate pledges to appropriate permanent funding to feds in case of another shutdown.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s presumed presidential nominee, promised, if elected, to roll back many of the workforce policies that President Donald Trump instituted during his time in the White House.

Biden’s “Empower Workers” platform said he would reinstate an Obama-era executive order that penalized federal contractors that pursued anti-union campaigns and did not pay their workers at least a $15 per hour and provide other benefits.

The “Empower Workers” platform has made Biden’s support for expanding and protecting collective bargaining rights a key point of his campaign's appeal to public-sector workers.

Biden pledged to pass the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, both of which would codify into law the right for public employees -- including police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians  -- to unionize and collectively bargain over issues such as wages and work schedules.

“States have decimated the rights of public sector workers who, unlike private sector workers, do not have federal protections ensuring their freedom to organize and collectively bargain,” Biden's platform states.

The campaign did not respond to a request for an interview.

While it has yet to formally announce which candidate it will endorse, the American Federation of Government Employees published the results of recent poll in which 58.4% of respondents said that the union should endorse Biden. 

AFGE Public Policy Director Jacqueline Simon said that the current administration has adopted “scorched-earth, anti-federal worker, anti-civil service” policies, particularly the three May 2018 executive orders that rolled back unions’ ability to conduct business using official time, accelerated the timeline for firing workers and restructured the grievance negotiation process.

“The Trump administration has been devastating to federal workers’ rights,” Simon said in an interview. “The executive orders narrowed our already narrow collective bargaining rights and made it harder for federal workers to get union representation even when they vote for it and pay for it.”

As the current COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the economy, another area of union concern is cuts to workers’ salaries and retirees’ benefits, a tactic used during the 2008 recession, Simon said.

In recent years, the Trump administration has proposed cuts to retired federal employees’ benefits and increasing the contribution expected from current workers. 

“We made it clear to the Biden campaign that those kinds of outrageous cuts due to anti-deficit budget posturing were something that they need to stay far away from,” Simon said.

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