The Consequences

By Debra Levy

Assuming Joe Biden does take the office on January 20, 2021, here are the top five items that are most likely to change for our industry:

1. Construction Spending: Biden’s proposed $2 trillion infrastructure package focuses mostly on roads, bridges, etc. But it does include a hefty amount for schools and energy projects. Though it’s doubtful the plan would be passed as is—especially if Republicans retain control of the Senate—some action is expected.

2. Energy: This is probably the area of largest change as a Biden administration would signal a reversal of many of our current climate trade policies, as well as a move toward economy-wide, net-zero emissions by 2050 and carbon-free power by 2035. Though not the controversial “Green New Deal,” it will put pressure on building owners to
make substantial investments in the energy efficiency of buildings, and reduce their use of energy. As a consequence, the glass industry will need to remain vigilant in fighting against reduced usage of glass and continue to produce more energy-efficient products.

3. Union Rights: This is another big area with a magnifying glass on it. The current administration enraged union officials with its policies on apprenticeship standards (see page 26 in the October 2019 issue of USGlass magazine). A Biden administration would work to strengthen union organizing and bargaining. The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) also anticipates a fight in states that have banned compulsory membership in a union, the so-called Right to Work states. Both the Ironworkers and the Glaziers’ Unions had endorsed Biden for his pro-union stance.

4. Immigration: Consider this analysis from Forbes Magazine that, by 2021, the current administration: “…will have reduced legal immigration by up to 49% since becoming president—without any change in U.S. immigration law, according to a National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) analysis. Reducing legal immigration most
harms refugees, employers and Americans who want to live with their spouses, parents or children, but it also affects the country’s future labor force and economic growth … Reversing these policies could be a vital part of the Biden immigration agenda.”

5. COVID-19: It is generally believed that there will be an increased focus on testing and more coordination across state lines as well as the development of a national plan.

I always welcome comments to my column and, in this case, all comments about the effect of the election on our industry are encouraged. Please, though, use the other consumer media available for a general political discussion. Thank you.

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