In 2023, we saw a massive gain in labor militancy and labor victories compared to recent years.
Over 500,000 workers went on strike, and more importantly, they won. In October, we saw more workdays lost to strikes than in any month during the past 40 years.
The United Auto Workers – under bold new leadership – led a strike against the Big Three automakers and won record contracts. In Hollywood, the actors and the writers went on strike simultaneously for the first time since 1960. At UPS, the Teamsters used practice pickets and a credible strike threat to win crucial gains.
The UAW strike was particularly personal for me, as I joined the picket line and spoke to rank-and-file autoworkers about their hopes and their needs. Furthermore, my father — a labor organizer with the CIO — was part of the UAW’s campaign to organize Ford Plants in 1937, where men and women were brutally assaulted for trying to form a union.
When I was growing up, my parents told me “if you cross a picket line, don’t bother coming home.” My grandfather worked on the Rock Island Railroad, taking my father to hear Eugene Debs speak when my dad was just a child. My brother worked for Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, and the imprint of support for labor has stayed with us throughout our adult lives.
2023 was a great year for labor, but the work is only just beginning. We still have very low unionization rates. We still have anti-union laws stomping the boot on the neck of the American worker.
We must end the assault on labor. We must abolish Taft-Hartley. We must pass the PRO Act. We must build an economy that works for all of us. That will be my mission as President of the United States.
Strengthening labor strengthens America
The Williamson Administration will:
- Support Labor Rights For All Workers
- Hold Corporate Executives accountable for labor law violations. CEOs should be personally liable for unpaid wages, and criminally liable for interference with workers’ efforts to organize. Employers who engage in wage theft, misclassifying workers, and bad faith stalling during bargaining, aka “surface bargaining”, will be heavily penalized.
- Strengthen the National Labor Relations Board by increasing the agency’s enforcement authorities and staffing to speed the process of issuing bargaining orders. Upgrade regional NLRB offices, increase labor investigators, and protect the agency from any adversarial attempts at defunding.
- End “Right To Work For Less” laws. States must allow employers and unions to enter fair share agreements. Unions represent all the workers in their bargaining units, not just those in the union. Everybody who benefits from unions should support those unions. End the tactics of “starving out” Labor.
- I will support unions in organizing sectoral bargaining.
- End retaliation for workplace organizing. Impose more impactful fines on companies who fire employees for organizing. Any organization found guilty of retaliation by the NLRB will have to pay larger fees for the unlawful action to the affected workers.
- End strike replacements. You are not supporting workers when you support companies that are at war with their workers. President Williamson will authorize the government to end contracts to companies that hire replacement workers during strikes.
- A Williamson presidency will support all efforts to repeal the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 that placed unreasonable restrictions on organizing. The Taft-Hartley Act has been devastating to Labor, rigging the system against workers. It is time to get rid of it.
- End “Captive Audience” intimidation meetings. Companies have resorted to “meetings of fear” that tell employees they will lose their job if they join a union. The Williamson administration will end these coercion tactics.
- Expand the definition of “employee” to include many workers currently treated as independent contractors. No longer designate drivers working for app-based platforms (Uber, Lyft, DoorDash) as “independent contractors” so they can organize and collectively bargain.
- End non-compete clauses. Contracts with non-compete clauses deny workers opportunities for better employment and have been proven to drive down wages. Working with Congress, we will ban these tactics that prevent workers from finding competitive employment.
- End surveillance monitoring. Ban employers from using surveillance software in the workplace, by which they monitor possible efforts to organize on emails and in private conversations.
- End lockouts. Employer-initiated lockouts are used by companies to force employees to accept contract or work concessions. Any company engaging in lockouts will be denied federal contract and subsidies. A Williamson NLRB will be aggressive in using its injunctive authority to bring lockouts to an end.
- Ensure collective bargaining for all public employees. In many states, public employees do not have collective bargaining rights. We must restore collective bargaining for public employees immediately with legislation. Collective bargaining dramatically strengthens public education teachers’ rights to advocate for the things their students need. Strengthen Labor, strengthen teachers, strengthen public education.
- Large corporations will be required to let workers elect board members. This has been successfully deployed in Europe, letting workers have more control over corporate decision making that affects wages and benefits. Workers on corporate boards are more patriotic and work in their community’s best interest on issues of outsourcing or investments.
- We see many instances where unions win their elections but fail to get a first contract. The Williamson administration will have the NLRB more aggressively mandate forced arbitration and even a first contract if the company is engaged in unfair labor practices.
- Establish Federal Heat and Wind safety standards. Make sure workers are safe in dangerous conditions by establishing consistent processes for keeping everyone safe during inclement weather.
- Establish and fund a National Worker Resource Center. Workers must know their rights and have access to confidential information about their rights to organize. A hotline must be created for workers being mistreated on the job.
- Mandate PTO for workers affected by climate disasters. Pass the Worker Safety in Climate Disasters Act to protect workers from being fired or endangered by increasingly frequent and dangerous climate-related events.
- Establish and fund a Civilian Climate Corps. The program would create jobs in environmental justice, restoration of public lands, and installation of renewable energy.
- Protect rail workers by banning precision scheduled railroading (PSR) to reign in the greed of rail barons. Mandate a two-man crew rule, guarantee 10 paid sick days and expand safety requirements for all railroads.
- Ensure universal Paid Time Off (PTO) by passing legislation that provides federally subsidized PTO for all workers, guaranteeing at least 30 total days of paid leave per year. This includes at least a week of sick leave, two weeks of paid vacation, and a week of personal days.
- Unions are the countervailing power to corporate power. A Williamson administration will pass the PRO Act and strengthen workers’ ability to organize.
- Urge Congress to pass an expanded version of the Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act (H.R. 564), guaranteeing all employees 12 weeks of paid family leave.
All Americans deserve a job, no matter their education. Every employee should be able to thrive in their workplace, no matter the work. All work should have respect, and all workers should have dignity.