Readout of Secretary Becerra’s Virtual Roundtable on Build Back Better’s Impact on Labor Unions

On February 2, 2022, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra hosted a virtual roundtable with labor union leaders to discuss the impact that the passage of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Build Back Better legislation could have on their members and workplaces.

The group discussed possible investments in child care and universal Pre-K, funding for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS), lowering the cost of prescription drugs, access to behavioral health services, closing the coverage gap, bolstering workers’ rights and more.

Participants included:

  • American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
  • American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
  • Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
  • National Education Association (NEA)
  • National Nurses United (NNU)
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
  • International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)

Participants highlighted how instrumental Build Back Better investments would be for working families and the communities they serve. Across the U.S., 86 percent of primary caregivers, who are predominantly women, say that lacking adequate child care impedes their ability to do their job. This is especially significant, because over the past 40 years, women entering the workforce have driven 91 percent of income gains among middle class families.

The roundtable discussed how access to affordable child care and HCBS is a fundamental building block for the economic success of hardworking families and their mobility. Furthermore, the group noted that bolstering the care economy is critical to address systemic inequities, felt most by women, and geographic inequities, experienced by many rural communities.  The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) underscored how important it is to center black and brown women in the economic recovery, especially.

In the past year, the Biden-Harris Administration has enrolled approximately one million new people in affordable health care, delivered over 660 million vaccine doses, and purchased roughly 30 million courses of COVID-19 therapies. Secretary Becerra reiterated that HHS will continue to build on recent progress to deliver tangible benefits to the American people, and he invited participants to weigh in with recommendations on how to improve patient and learning conditions delivered by millions of union members across the United States.

This discussion builds on both Secretary Becerra’s and the Biden-Harris Administration’s longstanding commitment to partnering with unions and helping working families.  Secretary Becerra shared that “As the son of a union man, I learned the impact of unions at a young age.” He closed the roundtable by thanking participants for their ideas, recommendations, and continued engagement with HHS.

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