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Biden and Unions


I had an interview with The Atlantic yesterday about the role of Biden in the railroad labor issue and how he is one of the best presidents ever for unions.

Nyce: Do you think he could be the most pro-union president we’ve ever had?

Loomis: Well, it’s a little early. We will have to see. But yes, one can make the case.

The case against this is [that] in the 1930s, you have the National Labor Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act—all of these laws that created the conditions for modern labor organizing. This is, of course, true.

But once again, the difference is that Biden is using real political capital in favor of unions in a deeply divided America. He’s spending his relatively limited amount of political capital as a president in a very divided nation and in a divided party, and he’s spending that on the labor movement. There’s no other president that’s done that.

Lyndon Johnson, for instance, had big labor legislation before the Senate, and it almost passed. And in other issues, Johnson used his pressure to get through civil rights and Medicare. He didn’t do that with the labor bill. And the labor bill failed. You see this over and over again with Democratic presidents.

So there is a case to be made that, given the context and the circumstances, Biden has been either the most pro-union president or one of the most pro-union presidents in American history. And perhaps that’s because the bar is tremendously low. But that is what it is.

Also, it was fun to do an interview like this, which hasn’t happened before in this kind of publication. So that was cool on a personal level.

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