February 5, 2014;Politico

Vice President Joe Biden pulls few punches. Just ask President Obama, who had to get off his noncommittal public stance on LGBT marriage when Biden sort of forced the issue. This week, in the wake of President Obama’s assigning Biden to chair a task force on job training (and issuing an executive memorandum that did not use the word “union” once), the Vice President gave a speech at the annual meeting of the United Auto Workers that was as pro-union as almost anything that anyone from the Obama administration has ever uttered.

Biden told the UAW assemblage that collective bargaining is the “bedrock of our economy,” that “labor built the middle class,” and that, referring to unions, “You guys are the only guys keeping the barbarians at the gate.” Now, tell us what you really think, Joe!

Citing right-to-work laws that were enacted in Michigan and Indiana in recent years and other governmental initiatives limiting unions’ collective bargaining, Biden ascribed these policy reversals to “a concerted, full-throated, well-organized, well-financed, well-thought-out effort waging war on labor’s house.”

Given that Vice President Biden is now in charge of a task force to generate ideas on job training programs that work for the parts of the economy that are likely to grow jobs, are his strongly pro-union statements at the UAW conference consistent with the task force deliberations? Here is the Bureau of Labor Statistics review of the occupational categories likely to show the largest proportional and absolute employment increases between 2012 and 2022. It would appear that the VP is reminding the unions that they have organizing challenges ahead:

2012 National Employment Matrix title

(numbers in the thousands)


Change, 2012-22

Median annual wage, 2012





Total, All Occupations