Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Vice President Kamala Harris Emphasize Benefits of Unions for U.S. Economy

In a press call underscoring the pivotal role of labor unions in bolstering the U.S. economy, Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen and Vice President Kamala Harris highlighted the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to supporting American workers and fostering a fairer labor market. The call coincided with the release of a Treasury Department report that presents a compelling case for the positive impact of unions on addressing challenges faced by the middle class.

Key Points from the Call:

  • Advocating for Workers: Vice President Harris commended the Biden-Harris Administration’s dedication to uplifting workers, an endeavor that has been at the forefront of the Administration’s policies, including Vice President Harris’s leadership of the Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment. She emphasized the Administration’s recognition that jobs bring not only financial stability but also a sense of dignity to individuals.
  • Empowerment through Unions: Secretary Yellen emphasized that unions can play a pivotal role in strengthening the American workforce. The report released by the Treasury Department highlights that unionized workers experience wage increases of around 10 to 15 percent and gain access to vital fringe benefits such as retirement plans, medical coverage, and life insurance.
  • Workplace Enhancements: The call highlighted the broader impact of unions on workplace practices, including improved grievance systems and enhanced workplace safety standards. Secretary Yellen, who began her career as a labor economist, noted that these non-monetary aspects significantly contribute to job satisfaction and workers’ overall well-being.
  • Spillover Effects: The report underscores that the benefits of unions extend beyond their members. Non-unionized workers may also experience wage growth due to increased competition. Additionally, heightened safety norms in unionized industries can have a positive influence on entire sectors. Families and communities of union members also experience spillover benefits.
  • Promoting Equality: Research presented in the report reveals that unions have a profound impact on promoting equality. They help reduce wage gaps based on race and gender by fostering anti-discrimination measures and promoting egalitarian wage practices. Unionized workplaces provide scheduling predictability, benefiting working parents, including mothers. Moreover, Black men, who exhibit high union membership rates, stand to gain from unionization.
  • Catalyzing Growth: Contrary to the notion that unions hinder growth, the report suggests that unions can contribute to reducing inequality and fostering overall economic growth. Their positive influence on productivity and equality challenges misconceptions about their impact on the economy.
  • Administration’s Commitment: Secretary Yellen highlighted that the Biden-Harris Administration’s Executive Order on Worker Organizing and Empowerment calls for federal agencies to enhance opportunities for building worker power. The Treasury Department’s report aligns with this objective and underscores its ongoing efforts to strengthen the role of labor unions.
  • Path Forward: The report is anticipated to guide ongoing initiatives aimed at boosting worker power and promoting gains for the middle class and the economy as a whole. It is set to influence policymaking and continue efforts to support American workers in a rapidly changing economic landscape.

The press call and the Treasury Department’s report reflect the Administration’s commitment to promoting worker well-being, creating a robust labor market, and fostering economic growth while addressing long-standing challenges faced by the middle class.