As President Biden settles into his new position, the labor community is continuing to voice their opinion in an attempt to have their voices heard and swing the President’s agenda in their favor.
President Biden is largely listening to them, or at least governing with the labor community in mind. Tom Buffenbarger, independent labor voice and former Machinists Union General President discussed what more the president can do to improve the lives of working people on America’s Work Force Union Podcast.
How the Commerce Department affects working people
Buffenbarger said the commerce department flies under the radar when it comes to workers. Since the department mostly deals with the physical sale of goods and services, workers are not the first thing that comes to mind when talking about the commerce department.
Despite this, it is important to have a labor advocate in position as the Secretary of Commerce. He said President Biden’s nominee is pro-labor and expected to advance the interest of American workers after four years of anti-labor cabinet members.
What can be expected from the Department of Labor
While the past four years at the Department of Labor (DOL) were dominated by pro-employer officials, Buffenbarger looks forward to seeing what Boston Mayor and Laborer Marty Walsh will be able to do as Secretary of Labor.
Enforcement of safety regulations and rules needs to be first thing on the agenda. With the COVID-19 pandemic raging and many out of work, there needs to be a way to enforce safety regulations in order to get Americans back to work.
Next, America’s pension plans need to be protected. This is an issue that continually gets kicked down the road.
Buffenbarger is pleased with the rhetoric and plan of buying American. The pandemic exposed the U.S. as being ill prepared to take on something like a pandemic, as most personal protective equipment and other medical supplies are produced overseas.
He added that the “Buy American” theme needs to be applied across the board. The Department of Defense and others need to commit to buying American-made products for the defense of the country.
He concluded by saying that American manufacturing will spur job growth for those who have been put out of work by the pandemic.