Washington, D.C. – Jobs With Justice released the following statement Tuesday in response to the reintroduction of the Richard L. Trumka Protect The Right To Organize (PRO) Act in both houses of Congress. Those spearheading the legislation on Capitol Hill include Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate HELP committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).
Statement from Jobs With Justice Executive Director Erica Smiley:
“We applaud the bipartisan reintroduction of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and urge its swift passage through both chambers of Congress so it can be sent to President Biden for his signature.
“Thanks to woefully outdated labor laws and corporate profiteering, millions of workers are denied the ability to form or join a union. This landmark legislation would give workers tools to organize in their workplace without fear of employer threats or retaliation. Empowering workers to use their voices at work to call out anti-labor practices and policies ensures workers get a seat at the bargaining table and a voice in the fight.
“The legislation would clarify that the nation’s laws protect workers from the manipulative tactics anti-worker companies use to prevent organizing and unionization, such as holding mandatory meetings to intimidate workers as they organize, stalling union elections, and preventing the misclassification of independent contractors. The law would also impose more substantial penalties for employers who illegally retaliate against workers trying to form a union and more.
“Democracy isn’t only about voting on election day. It is anchored in the ability to organize people in our economy to have a voice at work and throughout their lives. Every person deserves to work with dignity and have the right to organize – and when enacted, this legislation will put that within reach of millions of workers.”
The PRO Act — which passed the House with bipartisan support last Congress — enjoys widespread support among the American public because of its expected groundbreaking impact on workers’ rights and persistent economic inequality. Its reintroduction also comes as support for labor unions is at its highest point since 1965. As public support for unions continues to grow, evidence suggests our elected leaders ought to be arguing more often and more forcefully for the virtues of collective bargaining.
The PRO Act benefits workers by:
- Eliminating so-called “right-to-work” laws, which weaken unions by reducing their financial resources and making it more difficult for them to negotiate favorable contracts on behalf of their members.
- Clarifying that employers cannot hold mandatory anti-union meetings, also called “captive-audience” meetings, requiring workers to sign so-called “neutrality agreements” that prevent them from discussing unionization or retaliating against workers who engage in union activities.
- Streamlining the union election process and requiring employers to provide workers with access to contact information for their coworkers, making it easier for workers to form unions.
- Allowing workers to organize “micro-unions” – smaller bargaining units within a larger workplace – could help to address issues that are specific to certain departments or job classifications.
- Clarifying the laws preventing employers from misclassifying workers as independent contractors in order to strip workers of their right to organize.
- Requiring employers to provide advanced notice before conducting a mass layoff or closure provides workers with more time to prepare for potential job loss.