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Biden's $2 trillion jobs bill has big prizes for organized labor

Plan focuses aid on unions, which represent just 10.8% of workforce.

Updated: April 2, 2021 - 3:23pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

President Biden's $2 trillion American Jobs Plan is focused on helping unions whose members make up a minor fraction of the overall workforce, according to the latest labor statistics.

The latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that the "number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions" was 14.3 million in 2020. The BLS has reported that union members made up about 10.8% of the entire U.S. workforce in 2020. 

The number of full time workers was 123.19 million in 2020, according to the BLS. The working age population was about 213.6 million, according to the U.S Census Bureau. 

In 2020, there were 7.2 million workers in public sector unions and 7.1 million employees in private sector unions, according to BLS. "Union membership decreased by 428,000 in the private sector and showed little change in the public sector," the BLS reported. 

Biden appeared at the Carpenters Pittsburgh Training Center in Pittsburgh on Wednesday to promote the American Jobs Plan. A union member introduced him and said Biden's plan would help his union. During his  speech, Biden mentioned that his proposal would put union members to work and create additional union jobs.

"I got in trouble, but I don't make any apologies for it. I'm a union guy. I support unions. Unions built the middle class. It's about time they start to get a piece of the action," he said.

According to a White House fact sheet about Biden's plan, more than $621 billion would be spent on infrastructure improvements including roads, bridges, schools and public buildings. The formal legislative language of the proposal has not yet been released.

"It has never been more important for us to invest in strengthening our infrastructure and competitiveness, and in creating the good-paying, union jobs of the future," read the outline of the plan. "The president's plan will ensure that these investments produce good-quality jobs with strong labor standards, prevailing wages, and a free and fair choice to join a union and bargain collectively."

Unions contributed heavily to President Biden's 2020 election campaign.

"I make no apologies. I am a union man. Period," Biden said when kicking off his 2020 presidential campaign at a union hall in Pittsburgh.

According to OpenSecrets, labor organizations contributed $27.5 million to Biden's campaign and other outside groups that supported his candidacy. Former President Donald Trump received "less than $360,000" from labor unions or affiliated organizations.

Biden recently signed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package into law, the second largest relief bill in U.S. history. The bill contained an $86 billion bailout for union-managed pensions. House Democrats defended the bailout amid criticism from Republicans that it was a payback to unions.

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