Aug 21, 2019

Bernie Sanders releases plan to overhaul labor laws to benefit unions

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

2020 Democratic contender Sen. Bernie Sanders released a new plan Wednesday that would overhaul labor laws in the U.S. to increase union membership and rights.

Why it matters: The Vermont senator is competing for union endorsements against a wide Democratic field. The plan's release is timed with the Iowa state convention for the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

For unions, the plan would:

  • Allow employees to organize through a majority sign-up process.
  • Push for the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act, which allowed 28 states to pass laws preventing employees from negotiating union security clauses into their contracts and financially weakened unions by not legally obligating employees to pay dues.
  • Ban employers from replacing striking workers.

For federal workers, the plan would:

  • Grant the right to strike.
  • Create federal protections against firing employees for any reason other than "just cause."
  • Force merging companies to honor existing union contracts.
  • Use health care savings from union negotiations to pay for Medicare for All.

For federal contractors, the plan would:

  • Grant federal contracts only to companies that protect unions, pay their workers a $15 minimum wage and don't outsource jobs overseas.

Go deeper: Unionized workers still make substantially more money

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Unions shrink fast in swing states

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Map: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has challenged 2020 Democratic candidates to prove their support and not to take the union vote for granted — but there are half as many union members today than there were just 35 years ago, according to the Pew Research Center.

Why it matters: Half of Americans say the decline of unions has had a negative impact on workers, according to a Pew Research Center survey. And it may be a central reason for stagnant wages and growing income inequality in the U.S., according to a new study by the Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project.

Go deeperArrowSep 2, 2019

GM workers go on strike for first time since 2007

A General Motors employee puts strike signs into a car in Westland, Michigan. Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images

Tens of thousands of General Motors workers officially went on strike at 11:59 p.m. ET Sunday after negotiations with the automaker broke down, the United Auto Workers union announced.

Why it matters: The UAW's GM members are now participating in the nation's first auto strike in 12 years and the largest demonstration by any union against any U.S. business since UAW's last strike against GM in 2007.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 16, 2019

Trump endorses a 2.6% raise for federal employees

Trump speaks to the media before boarding Marine One on August 30. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump endorsed a 2.6% pay raise for federal employees on Friday that would take effect on the first applicable pay period beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2020.

The big picture: Without the raise, federal employees would see a much larger automatic increase, thanks to a "complex federal employee pay law" that requires a default pay bump if Congress doesn’t legislate one by the end of 2019, the Washington Post reports.

Go deeperArrowAug 31, 2019