What do they mean for your job?
In his first hundred days in office, President Joe Biden signed more than 60 executive actions and ten bills, many of which have implications for U.S. jobs. He has also come out in support of sweeping legislative proposals that would dramatically transform certain industries and change the way many Americans work.
- On his first day in office, President Biden cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline, rejoined the Paris Climate Accord, paused oil and gas leasing in the Arctic, and directed agencies to review or reverse more than 100 Trump actions on the environment. The moves threaten fossil fuel industry jobs. Biden has promised to replace them with clean-energy jobs.
- On his second full day in office, he signed an executive order making it easier for workers who refuse jobs due to unsafe working conditions to receive unemployment insurance.
- Next, he extended the existing pause on federal student loan payments through September of 2020.
- President Biden had to give up on plans to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour through the Covid relief bill after the Senate parliamentarian ruled that doing so using the budget reconciliation process would be inadmissible. The Administration also had to drop its Plan B to raise the minimum wage through tax penalties on corporations, for practical and political reasons.
- On the March 11, the anniversary of the World Health Organization’s coronavirus pandemic declaration, President Biden signed a sweeping $1.9 trillion Covid economic relief package called the American Rescue Plan into law, including:
- $1,400-per-person stimulus checks;
- a $300 federal boost to weekly jobless benefits, and an extension of those benefits to September;
- an expansion of the child tax credit of up to $3,600 per child;
- $350 billion in state and local aid;
- and an $86 billion bailout for underfunded pension plans.
- Not long after, he proposed a $2 trillion American Jobs Plan to rebuild infrastructure, promote green energy, and reshape the economy. It would include spending on roads, bridges, housing, broadband, the electric grid, and water pipes—as well as worker training programs, labor unions, and even in-home care.
- Soon after that, President Biden proposed the third of three major spending bills— the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan—which would provide 12 weeks of paid family leave, subsidized child care, free preschool, expanded school breakfast and lunch programs, tuition-free community college, and expanded Pell Grants to increase college tuition subsidies for low-income students, paid for by higher taxes on high-income households, investments, and corporations.
- Along the way, President Biden took a number of steps to make good on his promise to be the most pro-union president ever, such as:
- firing a Trump appointee at the National Labor Relations Board unpopular among unions;
- tweeting a video in support of a unionization effort at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama;
- signing an executive order to create a task force to encourage workers in both the public and private sectors to unionize;
- and supporting the proposed PRO Act (for Protecting the Right to Organize), a sweeping piece of legislation that would overturn labor laws, provide a big boost to unions, neutralize right-to-work laws in 27 states, and make it harder for companies like Uber and Lyft to classify gig workers as independent contractors.
- The president also pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030. For context, the pledge implies a much steeper reduction than that agreed to under the Paris Climate Accord, and than that achieved through the dramatic decline in commuting and shift to remote work caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
President Biden hasn’t achieved all he set out to do on the employment front. For example, his administration has missed it’s self-imposed deadline for issuing workplace safety rules on Covid and failed in its efforts to pass a nationwide $15 minimum wage.
Where he has encountered setbacks, such as on the minimum wage, he has moved the ball as far as possible—for example, by issuing an executive order raising the minimum wage paid by federal contractors to $15 an hour.
If his address before a joint session of Congress marking his first 100 days is any indication, there is much more to come.