In this file:
∑ President-elect Biden vows to beef up OSHA
∑ Biden pledges that unions will have 'increased power' under his administration
∑ Unions disagree over Biden's Labor secretary pick
∑ Five actions Biden should take to build a more humane food system
President-elect Biden vows to beef up OSHA
by The Counter
Under President Trump, the federal agency that enforces workplace safety hasnít done much enforcing.
Rather than mandate coronavirus-specific rules and standards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has encouraged employers to self-police and voluntarily follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.
Itís closed thousands of worker complaints without investigations. And itís issued meager fines to billion-dollar meat companies. Thatís likely to end under a Joe Biden administration.
The President-elect has vowed to issue mandatory workplace safety rules, and Politico points out it could happen quickly, given that he doesnít need Senate approval to push them through...
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Biden pledges that unions will have 'increased power' under his administration
Biden has tapped slew of labor officials to join his economic transition team
By Megan Henney, FOXBusiness
Nov 16, 2020
President-elect Joe Biden, while speaking with key labor leaders and CEOs from some of the nation's biggest companies, made a promise: Unions will have increased power under his administration.
"I made it clear to the corporate leaders," Biden said during remarks about the U.S. economy in Wilmington, Del. "I said 'I want you to know Iím a union guy. Unions are going to have increased power.' They just nodded. They understand. Itís not anti-business. Itís about economic growth."
Biden, who often refers to himself as "blue-collar Joe," has a long-standing relationship with union leaders, cultivated over his more than 40 years in politics. He has previously pledged to be the "strongest labor president you have ever had."
The former vice president has already tapped a slew of labor officials to join his economic transition team, and he's vowed to create a Cabinet-level working group comprised of labor representatives "that will solely focus on promoting union organizing and collective bargaining in the public and private sectors."
Labor membership has seen a steady, decades-long decline; just a little more than 10% of workers were represented by unions last year, according to Labor Department data, a decline of nearly 50% from 1983.
Unions hope Biden will enact policies that could revive the labor movement and bring in more members Ė and more money. For instance, Biden has committed to passing the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which would amend decades-old labor laws by expanding workers' collective bargaining rights and add penalties for companies that retaliate against employees for forming unions...
Unions disagree over Biden's Labor secretary pick
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and some of his organizationís largest affiliate unions are getting behind Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. But others are pushing Rep. Andy Levin.
By Eleanor Mueller and Megan Cassella, POLITICO
Union leaders are hoping to influence Joe Biden's pick for Labor secretary ó but they're increasingly at odds over who should get the job.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and some of his organizationís largest affiliate unions are singing the praises of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who previously led the cityís Building and Construction Trades Council and could appeal to construction workers who supported President Donald Trump. But other unions in the federation are publicly pushing Rep. Andy Levin, a Michigan Democrat who worked as a labor organizer and ran the stateís job training program before he was elected.
The federation, which spans 56 unions representing over 12 million of the more-than 14 million unionized workers in the U.S., was supposed to discuss the potential Labor secretary pick and a possible endorsement at a meeting of union presidents who serve on its political committee on Friday. But that didnít happen and another meeting hasnít been scheduled, according to four people familiar with the conversations.
The split over Walsh and Levin was the reason why, one of the people said. ďA number of the presidents were sort of furious at the whole thing," said the person, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive conversations.
Union leaders have long been expecting to hold sway in a Biden administration, given his support for workers' right to organize ó and the Labor Department will play the leading role in implementing Bidenís sweeping pro-worker agenda, making the role an obvious choice for organized labor to weigh in. Biden met on Monday with Trumka and the heads of Service Employees International Union, United Auto Workers, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and United Food and Commercial Workers.
But the early division over potential candidates could make it difficult for Biden to choose someone who would win support from all sides of the labor movement. Itís also unclear whether any of the white male candidates whom unions are supporting would appeal to the Biden camp, which is trying to build a diverse Cabinet.
Also in the mix for the position is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whoís been courting the Biden camp ó and, according to CNN, the AFL-CIO ó as he pushes himself for the job. California Labor Secretary Julie Su, who is well-regarded by unions in her state, is another contender...
Five actions Biden should take to build a more humane food system
By Viveca Morris and Jonathan Lovvorn, Opinion Contributors, The Hill
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill
Morris is the executive director of the Law, Ethics & Animals Program at Yale Law School
Lovvorn is the programís faculty co-director and co-director of Yaleís Climate, Animals, Food and Environmental Law and Policy Lab
President-elect Joe Biden has the power to make American agriculture more humane. Biden can help bring an end to the most extreme and widespread animal suffering in human history, while at the same time improving the welfare of agricultural workers, farmers, rural communities and the health of our environment and planet.
Today a handful of giant meat conglomerates, many of which are foreign-owned, completely dominate our food system. These corporations wield their massive economic and political power to tilt the playing field to their extreme advantage at terrible cost to animals, farm workers, independent farmers, our environment and to the successful development of more humane and sustainable alternatives.
For the past four years the Trump administration has empowered these giant agribusinesses to write the rules, gutted the environmental protections upon which human and animal lives depend, failed to enforce animal welfare and worker protections and greenlighted barbaric practices that past administrations disallowed for good reason.
With the following five actions, Biden can start to reverse this course and set us firmly on the path to developing a more humane, sustainable and healthy food system:
One, shut the revolving door between the USDA and ďBig Ag.Ē Former North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) is reportedly a frontrunner to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). She would be a terrible choice. Heitkamp has a track record of prioritizing the interests of multinational corporations over independent farmers, rural communities and the living world. Instead of appointing yet another pro-big-agribusiness USDA secretary interested in maintaining the status quo, Biden should appoint regulators who have a history of working to transform the food system to be more humane, fair, resilient and sustainable and who have the courage to take on the big corporations that are colonizing rural America. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), another of the USDA contenders mentioned in recent press, would be a better choice for both people and animals.
Two, break up the modern meat trust. Reining in Big Agricultureís monopoly and monopsony power will have cross-cutting benefits for people, animals, the environment, rural communities and the responsiveness of our democracy. Even without Congress, the Biden administration can do a lot to enforce and strengthen competition policy through executive orders and through actions of the USDA, Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission. To start, Biden should only appoint leaders of these agencies who are committed to investigating and reforming anti-competitive conduct in the meat industry. Biden should also create an interagency council by executive order to tackle meat industry competition and propose specific regulatory and enforcement actions for each agency. Earlier this year, a diverse coalition of advocacy groups published a list of actions that should be taken to restructure the animal protein industry to improve competitiveness, transparency and fairness. Biden should take these actions.
Three, treat factory farms like factories. Make them pay their externalized costs. This includes their role in polluting our air, water, and soil, exacerbating climate change, abusing animals, exploiting workers and contract farmers and sickening rural communities. Biden should issue an executive order directing the USDA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of the Interior and other agencies to catalog all the regulatory and enforcement exemptions currently bestowed on factory farms, and to develop a regulatory action plan to bring environmental, labor, animal welfare and climate accountability to this industry. Biden should also direct his climate action team to incorporate animal agriculture, which is responsible for around 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, into climate policy and regulation. To date, the EPA has failed to measure (let alone regulate) the air pollution of factory farms. Bidenís EPA should list greenhouse gas emissions from industrial animal agriculture as pollutants under the Clean Air Act, and develop a reliable emissions reporting system for industrial animal farms that yields comprehensive and transparent data.
Four, shift federal financial and technical support toward more just and sustainable food production...
Five, act swiftly to stop slaughterhouses from sacrificing workers, public health and animal welfare...
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