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STORY BY JOHN HARWOOD, CNN

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Published on March 15, 2021 2:21 AM

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Biden's toughest test on economic inequality will be reinvigorating the labor movement
(CNN)For the Democratic left, President Joe Biden's mammoth victory on Covid relief has inspired new hope of rebalancing America's increasingly unequal economy.

Nothing will test that hope more severely than Biden's goal of reinvigorating the labor movement as a way to do it. His aspiration to be "the most pro-union president you've ever seen" stems from his upbringing in post-World War II Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he witnessed the early stage of Rust Belt decline. Labor movement experts see early evidence of commitment in a recent video he recorded affirming the right to organize as Amazon workers in Alabama vote on whether to form a union. "Arguably the most pro-union public statement by a president...in the entirety of American history," tweeted Erik Loomis, a labor historian at the University of Rhode Island. "Nothing like it before," agreed Nelson Lichtenstein, who directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy at the University of California/Santa Barbara.

The question is whether even a supportive president can reverse the decline in union power that economists say has helped hollow out America's middle class. Neither organized labor nor sympathetic politicians have managed to do that for decades.