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White House task force outlines strategies to help workers unionize

The report Monday is the latest move by the Biden administration to give government workers labor protections.

WASHINGTON (CN) — With 70 policy recommendations, a White House task force on labor released a report Monday with the goal of making it easier for federal employees and contractors to join unions.

Most Americans are interested in joining unions, the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment found, but union membership is on the decline. Compared with 20.1% in 1983, only 10.3% of the workforce belonging to a union today.

The majority of the report's recommendations are aimed at promoting unions among government workers, including proposals to provide employees with information about unions and workers' legal rights during the hiring process.

Four agencies, the Department of Labor, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Health and Human Services, are directed to ban federal contract funds from going to anti-union activities.

The plan also aims to encourage conversations about unions by allowing four agencies, including the Department of Interior and General Services Administration, to let employees talk with union organizers on federal property. This rule change applies to federal employees and private employees on government contracts.

It additionally calls on the Department of Commerce and Department of Transportation to set guidelines and preferences for federal grant distribution to encourage union jobs through government funds.

The task force behind the report came out of an executive order that President Joe Biden issued last spring. Vice President Kamala Harris heads up the task force with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. The panel is expected to submit a report on the implementation of its recommendations and additional policies in six months.

The report comes just days after Biden signed an executive order requiring project labor agreements for all federal construction projects costing more than $35 million.

Biden's full-throated support for unions has won him praise among union organizers, but opponents have argued collective bargaining could cause worker shortages in an economy already struggling with inflation, bottlenecks in the supply chain and workers resigning at historic rates.

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