Today, Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Andy Levin (D-MI), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Brendan Boyle (D-PA) and Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) introduced the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act in both the House and the Senate.
The legislation would increase protections for workers’ right to organize and bargain for higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions. Specifically, and taken from the legislation’s press release, the PRO Act would:
- Establish penalties on predatory corporations that violate workers’ rights, and combat misclassification of workers as supervisors and independent contractors.
- Strengthen workers’ right to strike for basic workplace improvements, including higher wages and better working conditions.
- Create a mediation and arbitration process to ensure corporations and newly formed unions reach a first contract.
- Authorize unions and employers to negotiate agreements that allow unions to collect fair-share fees that cover the costs of representation.
- Streamline the National Labor Relation Board’s (NLRB) procedures to secure worker freedoms and effectively prevent violations.
- Protect the integrity of union elections against coercive captive audience meetings.
The introduction of this bill follows years of stagnant wages for the majority of Americans, poor working conditions, and attacks on unions and workers’ rights in general by corporate special interests and their representatives. Most recently significant was the 2018 Janus vs. AFSCME case in which the Supreme Court ruled that public sector unions may no longer assess so-called agency fees, the payment required of non-union members to cover the cost of collective-bargaining services.
“America’s workers are the backbone of our economy and the foundation of our strength, organizing and mobilizing over generations for higher wages, better health care, safer working conditions and stronger retirement security for everyone,” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). “Our House Democratic Majority is For The People and is proud to protect every working American’s freedom to negotiate better wages, working conditions and futures – because every worker deserves a fair shot to succeed in today’s economy. We salute the relentless, persistent leadership of Chairman Bobby Scott in advancing this critical legislation to respect the dignity and protect the economic security of the men and women of labor.”
“As corporations and the wealthiest few reap the biggest benefits of the Trump-GOP tax law, wages remain stagnant, economic inequality deepens, and American workers are left behind,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “Unions have long fought for American workers and helped families reach the middle class, strengthening their ability to bargain for fair wages and safe working conditions. These days, big corporate special interests, backed by Congressional Republicans, are ramping up their attacks on Americans’ right to organize, silencing the voices of hardworking Americans trying to make ends meet. I proudly support the PRO Act because it returns rights to workers and restores the power of unions and collective bargaining. This bill is a critical step towards protecting American workers and dismantling the rigged system that undermines workers’ freedoms.”
“The introduction of the PRO Act is a powerful statement of support for America’s workers,” said NALC President Fredric Rolando. “All Americans deserve the right not simply to stand together and negotiate a fair return on our work, but to have that right protected and enforceable through the court of law. For too long, corporations and the wealthiest few have been prioritized to the detriment of our nation’s labor force. NALC supports the PRO Act and encourages Democrats and Republicans alike to stand up for the American people by passing this legislation.”
NALC supports the PRO Act, will monitor its progression through the House and Senate, and keep letter carriers up to date.