By Chuck Guzak
Seyfarth Synopsis: On May 4, 2021, Seyfarth attorneys convened a webinar entitled “The Biden Administration: Actions on Labor & Employment in the First 100 Days.” A panel composed of Leon Rodriguez, Tracy Billows, Scott Mallery, Scott Hecker,, and Kyllan Kershaw addressed a number of labor, employment and immigration related actions taken by the Biden Administration since the beginning of its term.
The webinar kicked off by introducing the new leadership team at the Department of Labor, including Secretary Marty Walsh, Deputy Secretary Julie Su, and others. Tune in to find out who the Department’s shadow secretary might be (no spoilers)!
It then proceeded to a comprehensive account of the COVID-19 vaccine roll out under the Biden Administration, including its impressive success in achieving the goal of 200 million shots in 100 days. The Biden Administration’s new goal is to administer at least one dose of a vaccine to 70% of American adults by July, which is extremely ambitious. Discussion of the vaccine rollout concluded with a briefing on recent CDC guidance regarding the activities in which fully vaccinated adults can engage and the restrictions that will still be in place.
The next topic was OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard, which is currently waiting to be cleared by the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Although the text has yet to be seen, it is expected to include CDC guidance, OSHA guidance, and some components of state emergency standards, including possibly California’s pay and benefits provisions. Lastly, OSHA’s National Emphasis Program was outlined and OSHA leadership was introduced, including Cal/OSHA Chief Doug Parker, who was recently nominated to lead OSHA.
The panel then provided a detailed overview of spending bills proposed by the Biden Administration, beginning with the American Jobs Plan and its eye-popping trillion dollar price tag. That bill, the text of which has not yet been released, is also sometimes referred to as President Biden’s infrastructure plan. And although it does contain funding for traditional infrastructure like roads and bridges, it also provides money for other non-traditional infrastructure items, like broadband internet, and childcare. The pressing questions of whether that bill has any chance of passing the Senate and how to pay for it were addressed. Finally, the recently rolled out American Families Plan was discussed, which will provide $425 billion for childcare, 12 paid weeks of family leave, and funding to reform the unemployment insurance system.
Next was the status of labor relations under the (relatively) new Biden Administration. The priorities of the Acting General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, Peter Ohr, include expanding protected activity under federal labor law and making it easy for unions to organize. The panel also provided helpful advice on how employers can strengthen their current labor relations positions and avoid costly litigation.
Last but not least, the panel addressed COVID-19’s impact on immigration, the latest on travel bans, and the operational health of the Department of State and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. It also revealed something somewhat surprising: that reversing Trump-era policies and rules on workplace immigration has been a low priority thus far for the Biden administration.
For those that were unable to join us for the live session, we hope you will tune in and watch this fantastic webinar. Don’t miss out!