Union Lawyer: If The ‘PRO Act’ Fails, A ‘FDR-Size Executive Order’ Could Revive Unions


With labor-law reform on hold until the Georgia runoff elections are determined, one way for a Biden presidency to help unions could be by executive order, according one union lawyer.

Despite the U.S. House of Representatives passing the pro-union ‘PRO Act‘ in February—and despite Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ support—the future of the legislation will not be determined until the Senate runoff races in Georgia are concluded and the party makeup of the U.S. Senate is determined.

If Republicans hold onto the Senate, then the PRO Act will be just another legislative dream for unions that never comes to fruition.

If that occurs, then unions will need to seek other ways to rebuild their membership without Congressional help.

One way, writes Chicago labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan in the New Republic, would be for a Biden Administration to issue an ‘FDR-size Executive Order.’

“Even with a hostile Senate, there is at least one executive order that could do more to transform the country than single-payer health care or the Green New Deal—indeed, an order that could help pave the way toward those goals. Biden could require as a condition in every federal contract that every supplier of a good or service have a collective bargaining agreement—unless there is no such supplier that can perform that contract at a reasonable cost or comparable quality. Such an executive order would do more to revive the labor movement than many a federal law—and it wouldn’t require Mitch McConnell’s permission.”

Citing the Clinton-era case of Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Reich, when the Clinton Administration tried (and failed through the courts) to bar contractors who replaced striking workers, Geoghegan states that the federal court’s decision shows the way for a Biden Administration to issue an Executive Order conditioning federal contractors be unionized.

The case “helps to show the way that an even bolder and more far-reaching Biden-era executive order would be legitimate,” Geoghegan writes. “In effect, Reich says, it’s all a matter of giving the right reason.”

Geoghegan provides his extensive rationale here.

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