Treasurer’s Report: Defending Frontline Work

January 20, 2021

Brothers and Sisters,

First and foremost, I’d like to express my sincere thanks to everyone who came out for our officer nominations and election. I am grateful for your votes and the opportunity to continue serving you and your families. I’d also like to extend my sincere congratulations to all those who ran and to our newly elected and re-elected Officers, Executive Board Vice Presidents, and Chief Stewards.

We all recently saw an election of greater consequence pan out in favor of the American worker. President-elect Joe Biden is slated to be the most pro-Union president in recent history. He won 56 percent of union households, and he’s already appointed dozens of labor leaders to his transition teams.

But whether the President is a Republican or a Democrat, we’ll keep advocating for policies that protect workers. At the top of the agenda will be rolling back anti-union policies against workers’ right to organize and fighting for protections against employer retaliation.

We all worked hard to turn out the vote on Election Day. Now it’s time to work proactively with the incoming Biden-Harris administration to ensure that working families remain front and center. In the coming weeks, the UWUA is focused on the following key priorities.

Biden is expected to order the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to step up worker safety enforcement. OSHA has received over 10,000 reports of unsafe working conditions related to COVID-19, but has issued few citations. With an estimated 72,015 workers having tested positive for COVID-19, such reform is long overdue.

During his campaign, Biden said he would push to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, and eliminate the so-called tipped wage, which allows employers to count tips toward servers’ mandated wages. Both provisions were in a bill approved by the House of Representatives. The federal minimum wage hasn’t budged since 2009, when it was upped to $7.25.

Biden will need to rebalance the National Labor Relations Board, the agency responsible for enforcing the National Labor Relations Act and settling disputes between unions and employers. During the Trump administration, the board lurched to the right. Decisions are now made by three Trump appointees and only one Democrat, while a second Democratic seat has been left empty.

We need strong leadership in Washington. Over the past four years, there’s been increased pay inequity and decreased enforcement of labor regulations. The UWUA will continue fighting for good jobs, benefits, and safety protections — no matter who’s president. I encourage you all to stay informed and involved in the coming months, and most of all, stay safe.

In Solidarity,

Dan Leary