In his address to Congress tonight, President Biden outlined the challenging path toward recovery his administration has carved since taking office in January 2021.
President Biden's American Rescue Plan is injecting $1.3 trillion worth of federal funding into local economies to repair or rebuild roads, bridges, water systems, airports, buses, trains and schools. These important projects will have positive ripple effects through our communities as good-paying union jobs are created in the process which, research shows, raises living standards for all workers in the area, both union and non-union.
But OPEIU members, like most working Americans, are concerned: how rising wages due to a tight labor market are being nullified by inflation, driven in no small part by corporate greed; about the growing wage and health inequities exacerbated by the lingering COVID-19 pandemic; how corporate America continues to get away with union-busting, tax-dodging and destroying the planet; and how to cope with the ongoing student debt crisis that threatens to derail economic growth if the payment pause is ended.
That's why President Biden's call to pass the PRO Act -- the most consequential labor law reform legislation in modern history -- is so important. If signed into law, it can and will rebalance labor relations in the U.S., creating a more level playing field between disempowered workers and employers who regularly violate employees' rights without penalty. His promotion of apprenticeship programs serves this shared goal, as well, as these programs provide a meaningful and tangible path to the middle class for working families.
Raising the minimum wage, creating a national paid family and medical leave program, and enacting price controls on pharmaceutical and insurance premiums would go a long way toward easing the financial stresses faced by the American people and we applaud the president raising these issues. On many other important issues, however, the people cannot afford to wait for a broken Congress to provide desperately needed relief. With Republican leadership intent on stymieing any progress led by this administration, President Biden must use the powers of his office to do what he can on his own.
President Biden can, with the stroke of his pen, unilaterally cancel all federal student loan debt, effectively ending the crisis that has prevented millions from attaining the financial security they need to buy homes and start families in their own communities. He can protect natural lands from corporate exploitation, preserving them for future generations, via executive order. And he can broadly expand the rights of public sector employees by taking executive action.
If ever there has been a time for President Biden to deliver on the bold, progressive leadership he promised when OPEIU members voted to endorse him in the 2020 presidential campaign, it is now. We look forward to working with him in the coming months to make these sensible pro-worker proposals a reality.