Project 2025: How Trump Win Would Imperil Worker Organizing Gains Under Biden’s NLRB

The right-wing agenda “offers a playbook for how an administration could jeopardize the NLRB’s ability to protect organizing workers.”

By Julia Conley. Published 6-20-2024 by Common Dreams

Just before oral arguments in an American Federation of Government Employees’ lawsuit against the Trump administration, AFGE and other unions rally to protest the Trump administration’s anti-union executive orders. in 2018. Photo: AFGE/flickr/CC

With longtime labor lawyer Jennifer Abruzzo at the helm of the National Labor Relations Board, serving as general counsel, the Biden administration has worked to reverse the decadeslong trend in the U.S. of weakened labor laws—achieving a high rate of workers voting to join unions, requiring thousands of workers to be reinstated at their jobs after being illegally fired for organizing, and increasing the number of workers who are eligible to unionize.

But as the Center for American Progress (CAP) warned in an analysis published on Thursday, all that progress and more could be erased if former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee in the November election, were to win a second term in the White House—enabling him to put the right-wing plot Project 2025 into action.

As Common Dreams has reported, Project 2025 is spearheaded by the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation and includes agenda items for continuing to roll back reproductive rights, imposing mass deportations of undocumented immigrants, and rolling back climate actions taken by President Joe Biden and other administrations.

The CAP analysis released Thursday details how the project would also push the White House and the NLRB to dismantle protections achieved for workers in recent years.

The general counsel would be among the federal employees whose jobs would be eliminated “on Day One” of a potential Trump presidency, threatening the NLRB’s “ability to protect workers trying to organize for good, middle-class jobs,” wrote CAP policy analyst Aurelia Glass.

Project 2025 also advises the NLRB to reinstate a 2019 standard which allowed many workers to be classified as independent contractors, leaving them without the legal ability to organize in the workplace.

The right-wing playbook would further hamstring workers’ efforts to unionize by reinstating Trump-era rules that gave anti-union companies more freedom to fight organizing campaigns and allowed them to more easily avoid liability for labor violations by relying on staffing agencies and contractors to supply their workforce.

Glass noted that the Project 2025 agenda would weaken an agency that has been “a key part of the Biden administration’s strategy for empowering workers.”

“Crucial appointees are holding lawbreaking corporations accountable and helping reverse a decadeslong trend that allowed bad actors to bust workers’ unions before they could form. Project 2025… threatens rolling back unions’ success over the past four years,” said Glass.

Analyzing NLRB elections data, CAP found that workers in 2024 have a better chance of winning union representation than at any point in the past 15 years, with the agency recording a 73.8% win rate—the first time in 15 years that a 70% victory rate has been surpassed.

Under the Trump administration, the win rate dipped as low as 64.4%, and with corporations employing consultants and lawyers specializing in “union avoidance,” since 2008 the percentage of workers who won union representation in elections has been as low as 57.7%.

(Image: Center for American Progress)

Under the Biden administration, the NLRB has proposed bans on captive audience meetings, which require employees to attend to listen to anti-union propaganda, and surveillance for union organizers.

“Compared with this pro-worker agenda, Project 2025 instructs the next administration to eliminate procedures such as card checks, which make it easier to form a union, and would turn the administrative state against unions by accelerating the process to decertify them when workers have won a contract,” wrote Glass.

CAP noted that by firing the NLRB’s general counsel, a potential Trump administration carrying out Project 2025 would effectively punish Abruzzo and the agency for securing “more reinstatement offers for workers illegally fired for protected organizing activity in the general counsel’s first year on the job than during the entire previous administration.”

The Biden administration has achieved 8,285 offers of reinstatement for illegally fired workers—a 54% increase over the Trump administration.

Despite the successes of the past three years, wrote Glass, there is “always a risk that future administrations reverse course—and Project 2025 offers a playbook for how an administration could jeopardize the NLRB’s ability to protect organizing workers.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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