The fact that President Trump managed to win over white, working-class workers - many of them union workers, or the children of longtime union workers who saw their jobs shipped overseas when the factories closed - during Trump's 2016 electoral triumph has stuck in the Democrat's craw for years.
In the ensuing years, the Dems have been quietly formulating a plan to win those workers back. And as the latest labor-relations battle brews in upstate New York, where a handful of company-owned Starbucks' are seeing workers push for unionization, and workers at John Deere flex their power with a strike, Dems are quietly moving to try and signal their support for millennials' and Gen Z's supposed "fondness" for unionizing. But they're doing it slowly, and quietly - and in a way that won't infuriate any of their big corporate backers before next year's midterm election.
According to Axios, VP Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh are announcing new guidelines "to encourage federal workers to join unions."
Why is this important? Well, per Axios, the Biden Admin wants to bolster the collective bargaining power of workers across the country. So, they've decided the best course of action is to start "at home" with changes in the federal workforce.
Why? Because there's plenty of room for growth. With more than 2.1MM non-postal employees, the federal government is America's largest employer. And right now, only 20% of federal employees belong to a union.
That means there's plenty of room for the Dems to kick-start their new labor-organizing push. But here's the key: as Axios reports, the ultimate goal of this effort is to transform more workers - especially women and men of color - into dedicated labor organizers, who can then spread out across the economy and help their private-sector comrades demand their fair share from Starbucks and Amazon (companies that are already offering massive pay increases and benefits as the worker shortage reaches what just might be its most acute phase).
Harris and Walsh are starting with two new requirements for federal workers.
- For new hires, the government will be required to educate applicants about unions during the hiring and onboarding process. Unions will also be given a chance to participate in new employee training sessions.
- For current workers, employers will need to communicate more clearly throughout the year about their collective bargaining rights and how to contact their unions.
Union participation has been declining for 40 years, although it ticked up slightly in 2020, increasing to 10.8% of the workforce from 10.3% in 2019. The shift toward labor organizing appears to be happening no matter what at this point. The Dems just need to pretend like they're the ones leading the charge.