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White House labor task force will discuss using federal resources to help workers unionize

Reuters logo Reuters 5/13/2021 By Nandita Bose
a person talking on a cell phone: FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Harris visits Providence, Rhode Island © Reuters/KEVIN LAMARQUE FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Harris visits Providence, Rhode Island

By Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House labor task force, headed by Vice President Kamala Harris, is set to hold its first meeting on Thursday afternoon, to discuss ways to mobilize the federal government's resources to provide workers with more opportunities to organize, a White House official told Reuters.

Harris is expected to deliver remarks at the meeting, which is likely to start around 1715 EDT (2115 GMT).

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, who serves as vice chair of the group, will also attend, a Labor Department representative said.

"The goal of the task force is (to) help increase our nation's union density rate by targeting the barriers that exist for workers to organize and bargain collectively," the White House official said.

U.S. organized labor suffered a big setback in April when Amazon.com Inc warehouse workers in Alabama voted against forming a union by a more than 2-to-1 margin. Union leaders had hoped the election outside Birmingham would spark a new era of worker activism.

The White House official said on Thursday that between 1979 and 2020, the percentage of American workers represented by a union dropped by 14.9 percentage points. According to analysts, because of that drop American workers are losing out on $200 billion a year, the official said.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that this meeting was expected to take place.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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