Looking to make a change? Or curious about what the new Obama administration will have on its agenda?
Then the new administration website, Change.gov, is for you. It’s now up (but as of 2 p.m., barely running — likely due to the massive traffic the site is facing so give it a little time). Parts of the site are also still under construction, including a fascinating "America Serves" section.
You can sign up for information, get information about seeking a position in the new administration or get detailed information on the agenda that the new administration is setting in a variety of areas.
Lest you think that Obama will shift course, the agenda is identical to what he had on his campaign site, but it’s important to revisit it in light of all the ink that’s been spilled on where his priorities will be. A look at the Economy area lists his "labor" agenda as follows:
- Obama and Biden will strengthen the ability of workers to organize unions. He will fight for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. Obama and Biden will ensure that his labor appointees support workers’ rights and will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers. Obama and Biden will also increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation to ensure it rises every year.
- Ensure Freedom to Unionize: Obama and Biden believe that workers should have the freedom to choose whether to join a union without harassment or intimidation from their employers. Obama cosponsored and is strong advocate for the Employee Free Choice Act, a bipartisan effort to assure that workers can exercise their right to organize. He will continue to fight for EFCA’s passage and sign it into law.
- Fight Attacks on Workers’ Right to Organize: Obama has fought the Bush National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) efforts to strip workers of their right to organize. He is a cosponsor of legislation to overturn the NLRB’s "Kentucky River" decisions classifying hundreds of thousands of nurses, construction, and professional workers as "supervisors" who are not protected by federal labor laws.
- Protect Striking Workers: Obama and Biden support the right of workers to bargain collectively and strike if necessary. They will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers, so workers can stand up for themselves without worrying about losing their livelihoods.
- Raise the Minimum Wage: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will raise the minimum wage, index it to inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs.
In the "Work/Family" arena, he lists the following as his top priorities:
- Obama and Biden will double funding for after-school programs, expand the Family Medical Leave Act, provide low-income families with a refundable tax credit to help with their child-care expenses, and encourage flexible work schedules.
- Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act: The FMLA covers only certain employees of employers with 50 or more employees. Obama and Biden will expand it to cover businesses with 25 or more employees. They will expand the FMLA to cover more purposes as well, including allowing workers to take leave for elder care needs; allowing parents up to 24 hours of leave each year to participate in their children’s academic activities; and expanding FMLA to cover leave for employees to address domestic violence.
- Encourage States to Adopt Paid Leave: As president, Obama will initiate a strategy to encourage all 50 states to adopt paid-leave systems. Obama and Biden will provide a $1.5 billion fund to assist states with start-up costs and to help states offset the costs for employees and employers. …
- Protect Against Caregiver Discrimination: Workers with family obligations often are discriminated against in the workplace. Obama and Biden will enforce the recently-enacted Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines on caregiver discrimination.
- Expand Flexible Work Arrangements: Obama and Biden will create a program to inform businesses about the benefits of flexible work schedules; help businesses create flexible work opportunities; and increase federal incentives for telecommuting. Obama and Biden will also make the federal government a model employer in terms of adopting flexible work schedules and permitting employees to request flexible arrangements.
Before employers and employees get too worked up about all of the above, remember that we are in the midst of the worst recession in at least a generation. The problems weren’t created overnight and it’s unrealisitc to expect all of the above to be passed in the first 100 days — and probably not the first 500 days.