President Biden this week signed Executive Orders (EOs) to form a federal task force to increase union membership and increase the power of workers to collectively bargain, and to mandate that federal contractors must provide an hourly minimum wage of $15.

“Today, President Biden will sign an Executive Order establishing the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment,” a White House press release said on Monday. “The Task Force will be dedicated to mobilizing the federal government’s policies, programs, and practices to empower workers to organize and successfully bargain with their employers.”

The text of the EO can be found here and a White House fact sheet can be found here.

The EO directs the Task Force to consult academics, advocacy groups and labor leaders to make a set of recommendations within 180 days addressing how existing policies, programs, and practices can be used to promote worker organizing and collective bargaining and what new policies are needed to increase workers’ ability to organize and bargain with their employers.

Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will serve as Chair and Vice-Chair of the task force, respectively. The Task Force will be comprised of more than twenty cabinet members and heads of other federal agencies. The full membership list is below:

  • Vice President Kamala Harris, serving as the Chair of the Task Force
  • Secretary of Labor, Marty Walsh, serving as the Vice-Chair of the Task Force
  • Secretary of Treasury, Janet Yellen
  • Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin
  • Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland
  • Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack
  • Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra
  • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Marcia Fudge
  • Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg
  • Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm
  • Secretary of Education, Dr. Miguel Cardona
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Denis McDonough
  • Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas
  • The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Michael Regan
  • The Acting Administrator of General Services, Katy Kale
  • The Administrator of the Small Business Administration, Isabel Guzman
  • The United States Trade Representative, Katherine Tai
  • The Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda Young
  • The Acting Director of the Office of Personnel Management, Kathleen McGettigan
  • The Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Dr. Cecilia Rouse
  • The Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and Director of the Domestic Policy Council, Susan Rice
  • The Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council, Brian Deese
  • The Assistant to the President for Climate Policy and National Climate Advisor, Gina McCarthy

The second EO, which was signed on Tuesday, requires that federal contractors pay a $15 hourly minimum wage. Starting January 30, 2022 all federal agencies will need to incorporate a $15 minimum wage in new contract solicitations, and by March 30, 2022, all federal agencies will need to implement the minimum wage into new contracts.  Federal agencies must also implement the higher wage into existing contracts when the parties exercise their option to extend such contracts, which often occurs annually.

The text of the EO can be found here and a White House fact sheet can be found here.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and the Federal Acquisition and Regulatory Council will engage in rulemaking to implement and enforce this EO.

The EO will also continue to index the minimum wage to an inflation measure so that every year after 2022 it will be automatically adjusted to reflect changes in the cost of living.

The order expands a February 2014 Obama Executive Order 13658 that required federal contractors to pay $10.10 per hour (indexed for inflation) for employees working on federal contracts.

The current hourly minimum wage for workers performing work on federal contracts is $10.95.