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John Sweeney, who led an era of transformative change in America’s labor movement, passed away Feb. 1 at the age of 86.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka discusses why America needs a strong labor movement and how the Biden administration is committed to strengthening unions.

“Millions of workers still do not have the strong COVID-19 protections they need to be safe at work. Marty Walsh’s strong leadership will be needed to urgently issue a strong, comprehensive OSHA COVID-19 emergency temporary standard to set workplace safety rules, accompanied by strong enforcement to ensure workers are protected,” said Rebecca Reindel, the AFL-CIO’s safety and health director. Reindel said new rules and strong enforcement are “essential to President Biden’s promise to protect workers from COVID-19.”

An important meeting was held Thursday at the White House as the first female vice president, Kamala Harris, gathered with women labor leaders. The vice president called together the small group to discuss tackling the pandemic, creating an equitable recovery and getting women back to work.

Last week, President Joe Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion investment in our country’s recovery and future success. AFL-CIO affiliate unions released a flurry of statements praising the bill’s enactment and highlighting how the American Rescue Plan will help our members.

"When technology comes into a union worksite, we're able to negotiate to get a fair share of the increased productivity and make sure it's healthy and safe — it's called bargaining acquiescence. We bargain to get a fair share for workers. But society as a whole doesn't have that," says Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO.

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AFL-CIO on Thursday called for the Senate to abolish the filibuster if it prevents Democrats from moving forward with a pro-worker agenda. “For decades, working people have paid the price for corporate-first government,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Time and again, the Senate’s arcane rules have been used to keep working people from claiming the basic rights and dignities that we’ve earned. The labor group’s executive council wrote in a statement that the House-passed PRO Act gives Senate Republicans the chance to show if they are ready to work for workers.

"The PRO Act would protect and empower workers to exercise our freedom to organize a bargain," Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, told NPR in a recent interview. "It's a game changer. If you really want to correct inequality in this country — wages and wealth inequality, opportunity and inequality of power — passing the PRO Act is absolutely essential to doing that."

President Biden proved once again he’s a champion of his own workforce. AFGE members asked Biden to revoke a memo former President Trump had issued in January 2020 that gave the secretary of defense, or their designee, the authority to eliminate collective bargaining rights for civilian workers in the Defense Department (DoD). Biden answered the call, revoking Trump’s memo on Feb. 24 of this year.

“He got it,” Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, said of Biden. “Many times you go into meetings like that and you have to start with the basics about why collective bargaining is important, and then you get to the end, and they still really don’t get it,” Trumka, whose organization represents the largest federation of labor unions in the United States, said in a phone interview today. “None of that was necessary with him. He already had that going in. So we talked about solutions.