News & Commentary

June 19, 2023

Morgan Sperry

Morgan Sperry is a student at Harvard Law School and also serves as OnLabor's Social Media Director.

In today’s News and Commentary, Juneteenth offers an opportunity to reflect upon how labor and employment law should be reformed to address systemic racism, and President Biden is rallying with labor.

Today is Juneteenth, a federal holiday to celebrate June 19, 1865—the day that news of the end of the Civil War reached Galveston, Texas, and the Emancipation Proclamation was finally enforced nationwide. Today offers an important opportunity to reflect upon how systemic racism has since been baked into today’s labor and employment laws—from disproportionately Black domestic workers’ exclusion from key National Labor Relations Act and Federal Labor Standards Act protections to the tipped subminimum wage. Labor law reform must start with addressing systemic racial oppression. 

Over the weekend, President Biden kicked off his 2024 campaign alongside union workers in Philadelphia. In his first official re-election campaign event, President Biden emphasized his role as “the most pro-union president in American history” before 2,000 union members. First lady Jill Biden also spoke at the rally, wearing the blue t-shirt of the National Education Association. Union leaders who participated in the event emphasized that the face of labor is rapidly changing. Speaking about today’s labor movement, Randi Weingarten (the president of the American Federation of Teachers) noted that “you think about it as the dude with a cigar, and it’s just not that. I’m sure there’s still dudes with cigars, but there’s lots and lots and lots of other people in a multigenerational, multiracial cacophony of people that are unified by a zealous fight for a better life.”

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