Labor unions are pushing to secure a role in the Biden Administration’s target of employing tens of thousands of workers to generate 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, a goal that the White House announced last year. Although some private developers have already negotiated agreements to collaborate with organized labor on these projects, union leaders and some of their congressional allies, desiring to enlarge labor’s role in the upcoming expansion of wind energy beyond such private partnerships, are calling upon the Department of the Interior to implement project labor agreements, effectively collective bargaining agreements entered into by unions and contractors before the project begins to establish certain labor standards, to govern the labor relations of all firms contracting with the federal government to produce offshore wind energy in the coming years.
Wind energy generation is slated to massively expand in the United States in the coming decades—one report suggests that the industry will employ more than one hundred thousand workers by 2050—and, at least under the current Administration, organized labor appears to be positioning itself to take advantage of this burgeoning industry.
As labor strife looms on the nation’s freight railroads, President Biden must intervene by next week or else face a potential strike or lockout that could affect as many as 115,000 rail workers across the nation, grinding the nation’s freight rail system, which accounts for the transportation of nearly a 30 percent of U.S. freight, to a sudden halt. Indeed, just yesterday, for example, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), a union that represents around 23,000 workers affected by the negotiations, announced that more than 99 percent of its members voted to authorize a nationwide strike. The rail workers, who have been laboring without a collective contract since 2019, will be legally permitted to engage in a strike next week, after nearly three years of futile negotiations with the major railroad companies.
Pursuant to the Railway Labor Act, President Biden may appoint a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to provide recommendations for settlement of the dispute, which would prohibit a strike or lockout for sixty days. A nationwide railroad strike would surely engender widespread economic disruption and further exacerbate supply chain shortages, and the looming railroad strike thus provides an important opportunity for President Biden, who remains desperate to tame the inflationary monster, to demonstrate that his commitment to organized labor goes beyond mere oratory.