News & Commentary

April 27, 2021

Zachary Boullt

Zachary Boullt is a student at Harvard Law School.

President Biden has formed a task force to make recommendations on how to promote labor organizing. Created by executive order, the task force will be led by Vice President Harris and will recommend both ways existing policies can be used to support organized labor and new policies that could assist as well. The task force will also focus on encouraging federal government workers to join unions, as well as target marginalized workers and parts of the country with union hostility. The task force’s recommendations will be issued with 180 days. President Biden has also issued an executive order requiring that federal contractors institute a $15 minimum wage for contract solicitations. The minimum hourly rate is also set to rise annually with inflation. The order raised the previous Obama-era rate by $4.05. The new minimum wage will apply to new contracts, renewed contracts, and existing contracts whose companies undergo annual review. The order will also phase the tipped minimum wage for federal contractors over three years to equal the standard minimum wage by 2024.

Adjunct faculty and graduate students at Virginia Commonwealth University have unionized. 60 staffers and graduate students organized under United Campus Workers of Virginia. VCU is the second university in the state to have organized under United Campus Workers. Union members are asking for more pay per credit hour and more job security, as many are struggling to pay for household expenses under the current rate. The union has received vocal support from a current member and a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates.

Contract negotiations between the United Steelworkers and ExxonMobil Corp at Exxon’s Beaumont, Texas refinery facility are reaching a boiling point. Exxon has threatened to lock out workers on May 1 if no agreement is reached by then. The Steelworkers have threatened to strike in response. The president of the union’s local Darrel Kyle stated that the focus of the negotiations are currently on worker safety and job security. The lockout notice was issued by Exxon after the Steelworkers offered extending the previous six-year agreement by one year.

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