Former Vice President Joe Biden’s labor policy initiatives would advance the largest pro-organized labor agenda in three generations by expanding union membership, increasing union rights and easing restrictions on union organizing. These policies would be advanced through the candidate’s infrastructure investment plan and environmental initiatives. The centerpiece of the Biden agenda includes the PRO Act and a cabinet level working group on union organizing.
The PRO Act is an unprecedented attempt to fundamentally change dozens of well-established labor laws to assist organized labor without regard to their detrimental impact on workers, employers—union and open-shop—and the economy. Among the dozens of labor law changes, the bill would: allow for back door card check and thus the coercion of employees to join unions against their conscious; “Quickie Elections” to allow for accelerated union representation elections and thereby limit employers ability to communicate the virtues of joining or not joining a union; permits secondary boycotts where union contractors would lose the
ability to limit labor disruptions among subcontractors; personal liability for company officers and directors for unfair labor practice charges; mandatory arbitration for contracts after union support established; expansive California independent contractor test; and repeal state right-to-work laws.
Mr. Biden “will require corporations and the wealthiest Americans to finally pay their fair share.” He will accomplish this by increasing the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent; increasing taxes on high-income owners of pass through businesses by 20 percent by repealing the qualified business income deduction (Section 199A); and increasing the top individual income tax rate for taxable incomes above $400,000 from 37 percent, and in some cases 35 percent, to 39.6 percent. Mr. Biden intends to tax capital gains for high income earners at the “ordinary income rates” of up to 39.6 percent, and impose a 12.4 percent Social Security payroll tax for wages above $400,000. He also proposes to tax capital gains at the time of death, in addition to the estate tax, rather than allowing the basis for inherited assets to be “stepped-up” at the time of death.
Mr. Biden proposes a $2 trillion plan to invest in infrastructure and build a clean energy economy. He calls for:
- Building and upgrading a cleaner, safer, stronger infrastructure - from roads and bridges to green spaces and water systems to electricity grids and universal broadband - in both rural and urban areas;
- Achieving a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 to help address the threat posed by climate change;
- Making buildings more energy efficient;
- Investing in innovation to drive down the costs associated with clean energy technologies, such as battery storage, building materials, and negative emissions technologies, and facilitating their commercialization; and
- Securing environmental justice and equitable economy opportunity.
Mr. Biden will overhaul and reverse many of the current administration’s immigration policies. He condemns the southern border wall and will end the “National Emergency” that allows military funds to be used for its construction. Additionally, Mr. Biden does not support decriminalizing illegal border crossing, but promises to reduce the number of prosecutions at the border for minor immigration violations. He supports providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the United States, including individuals who retain Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“Dreamers”) and those that hold Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Mr. Biden does not support the national legalization of marijuana use. However, he does support decriminalizing its use by removing it from the federally restricted controlled substances list, thereby largely allowing state laws to control on use allowance or restrictions. Mr. Biden’s policies do not articulate how employers would be permitted to maintain drug-free workplaces under such a policy change. Mr. Biden supports the issuance of a coronavirus Emergency Temporary Standard that would convert current CDC and OSHA guidance from suggestive to mandatory. In addition, the candidate supports a transition to a permanent infectious disease standard that would require employers to permanently implement infection control programs to protect their workers. Mr. Biden would reinstate an OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping rule that would make contractors liable for records in their OSHA logs dating back five-and-a-half years instead of six months.
Mr. Biden “believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.” He promises to “sign a series of new executive orders with unprecedented reach that go well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform” related to climate concerns. His Clean Energy and Environmental Justice plan pledges every dollar spent on infrastructure “will be used to prevent, reduce, and withstand a changing climate;” commits that every federal infrastructure investment should reduce climate pollution and would require any federal permitting decision to consider the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change; require public companies to disclose climate risks and the greenhouse gas emissions in their operations and supply chains; establish a new federal agency focused on climate and tasked with achieving 100% clean energy goals across the economy including the building of zero net energy buildings and decarbonizing construction materials; and calls for an enforcement mechanism for carbon pollution.
Mr. Biden strongly supports the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and opposes any effort to repeal it. He intends to bring back the individual mandate penalty for not having insurance that was repealed in the 2017 tax reform bill. If elected, Mr. Biden will create a Medicare-like public health insurance option, which he believes will provide health care to more Americans.