Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka told Jonathan Swan in an interview for "Axios on HBO" that former Presidents Clinton and Obama didn't understand unions' importance — and were disappointments to organized labor because of it.

What they're saying: "Joe Biden has surrounded himself with people that are worker-friendly, so that in the multitude of decisions that are made every day without the president being involved, they're going to think about the impact it has on workers," Trumka said.

  • "That's a significant difference and a beneficial one for workers in this country," Trumka added. "And it's one of our reasons for optimism and hope."
  • Barack Obama and Bill Clinton — the last two Democratic presidents — "didn't understand the importance of labor and the importance of collective bargaining," he said.
  • "Both of them surrounded themselves with Wall Street people. And so all of their advice was coming from a Wall Street lens.”
  • Biden "still identifies as a blue-collar guy. ... He doesn't aspire to be accepted by Wall Street. He is what he is, and that is a genuinely good human being that cares about working people."

Why it matters: Trumka knows many union members feel burned by Obama and Clinton — and the Democratic Party, by extension — because of trade deals and other legislation that overlooked or was antithetical to organized labor.

  • Clinton infuriated organized labor with NAFTA.
  • When Obama took office in 2009, he didn't use his larger Senate majority to pass the labor movement's top legislative priority at the time — the so-called "card check" bill.
  • Then Obama tried to seal the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a trade deal many labor leaders believed would send American jobs offshore.

The big picture: The labor movement — which has suffered decades of declining power and membership — may never enjoy a more favorable climate in Washington than now.

  • Biden is vowing to be "the most pro-union president you've ever seen," coupled with Democratic control of the House and Senate.
  • But in a 50-50 Senate in which Democrats need Vice President Kamala Harris to break ties, it's hard to imagine they can find the 10 Republicans that are needed to overcome a filibuster and support labor's top legislative priority — the PRO Act.

What's next: Asked if he'll urge Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to end the legislative filibuster so Democrats can pass new labor laws with a simple majority, Trumka made a case for why the filibuster was undemocratic — but then demurred.

  • "I don't have the luxury of giving you that answer yet because my affiliates and I will debate that and come to an answer. I think I know where it'll go."

Go deeper

Biden's economic power players

Graphic: Danielle Alberti, Sarah Grillo/Axios

Here are some of the players in the administration who have President Biden's ear on the economy and will help shape Biden-era policy.

Why it matters: The latest jobs report cements the gravity of the crisis Biden's economic team has to tackle as it works on the most immediate challenge: pushing a massive $1.9 trillion rescue plan through Congress.

Inheriting inequality

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Reserve, Peter G. Peterson Foundation; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Home confinees face imminent return to prison

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Thousands of prisoners who've been in home confinement for as long as a year because of the pandemic face returning to prison when it's over — unless President Biden rescinds a last-minute Trump Justice Department memo.

Why it matters: Most prisoners were told they would not have to come back as they were released early with ankle bracelets. Now, their lives are on hold while they wait to see whether or when they may be forced back behind bars. Advocates say about 4,500 people are affected.