Working People Call for Urgent Passage of Landmark Worker Rights Bill

Working People Call for Urgent Passage of Landmark Worker Rights Bill

“Today, working people are one step closer to freely exercising our most fundamental rights on the job,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA). “The PRO Act will strengthen workers’ ability to come together and demand a fair share of the wealth we create—boosting wages, securing better health care and rooting out discrimination.”

Trumka continued:

The past year has laid bare the enormous injustices facing millions of America’s working people who keep our country afloat. We cannot allow those systemic failures to persist for another moment. Working people turned out to vote in record numbers because we urgently need structural change.

We will make our case in every state and every congressional district, to elected leaders across the political spectrum. But make no mistake, this is a test for Democrats. After decades of disappointment, it’s time for the party of FDR to finish what he started. If you stand on the side of America’s workers, you won’t just vote for the PRO Act—you’ll sponsor it, you’ll whip for it and you won’t rest until it’s signed into law.

Advocates for working people across the country also called for the passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. Here are their statements:

Alaska State AFL-CIO President Vince Beltrami (IBEW):

As the sun sets on my career in the labor movement I can think of no better gift to the American worker than to see the PRO Act become law. Since the egregious Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, moneyed interests have continued to whittle away protections for workers in the workplace. The PRO Act provides the first real substantive means to restore the original intent of the National Labor Relations Act. Organizing and empowerment of workers will once again bring opportunity and prosperity to the forefront. With a president committed to making this the law of the land, and a Congress that can finally make this happen, we cannot relent until the PRO Act lands on President Biden’s desk and dignity and fairness is restored in workplaces across America, while eliminating Jim Crow era policies like “right-to-work” across the country in the process.

California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski (IAM):

With the Introduction of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO) Act, federal lawmakers today set a course to revitalize America’s economy by reclaiming the rights of millions of workers to stand together and negotiate a fairer deal with their employers. The wealthy and powerful have controlled the economy in their favor for too long while working people have been losing ground. For decades we have had to work much harder, put in longer hours and take on more jobs just to try to keep up. At the same time, the rich and powerful got much, much richer off the fruits of our labor. This landmark bill is crucial to the future of California’s economy. When super-wealthy gig corporations spent almost a quarter-of-a-billion dollars to pass Prop 22 last year, hundreds of thousands of Californians instantly lost their hopes for a decent job. By that one act, employers like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and others crushed the right of their employees to stand together for a fair wage. The PRO Act would simply reestablish the rights of gig workers and many others to create a union for themselves in order to negotiate for decent wages and employee protections. In addition to cracking down on the misclassification of workers, which eliminates basic protections of law, the PRO Act would stop pernicious corporate tactics that crush any attempts by the workforce to organize. By creating new pathways for workers to stand together on the job, the PRO Act strikes at the heart of growing income inequality that especially threatens women, immigrants and people of color. Billionaire CEOs are already marshalling their resources to fight the PRO Act in an effort to retain the status quo that has allowed them to grossly expand their fortunes at the expense of working people. To combat their big-money campaign, working people in California and across the nation will mobilize in a big way to ensure lawmakers are hearing the voices of those whose lives would be improved by having a union on the job. We call on every member of the California Congressional delegation, Democrat and Republican to co-sponsor this historic legislation to reform outdated labor laws that work against those most vulnerable in our economy. The PRO Act charts a new course for California and America. A course that puts working people at the helm of the ship with the freedom to control their own destinies. We strongly urge Congress to pass this groundbreaking bill and for President Biden to live up to his promise to working people by signing it into law.

Colorado AFL-CIO:

The Colorado AFL-CIO, our affiliates, and our members made up of teachers, nurses, grocery workers, firefighters and more commend our new congress elected by working families for introducing the PRO Act today. Every Colorado Democrat in the House of Representatives signed on as co-sponsor. Make no mistake, every congress member who commits to passing the PRO Act has made a commitment to build back our communities and jobs better—and with a union that keeps workers returning home safely after a hard day’s work. The PRO Act will have an immediate positive effect for working people in Colorado. This important step forward ensures fairness and a voice on the job. The PRO Act puts the power back in the hands of working people by increasing access to fair union elections and by ensuring there are enforceable penalties for corporations and executives that violate workers’ rights. For too long, union busting law firms have helped corporations avoid responsibility and game the system. Workers are taking collective action and it is past time for our labor laws to catch up. The PRO Act will support the AFL-CIO’s Five Economic Essentials including expanding public investment in good jobs, ensuring workers’ access to necessary safety support to do their jobs, help address the structural racial equity issues in America, and ensure working Coloradans have the economic security they deserve. Currently, hard working Coloradans seeking to join together with coworkers can face retaliation with little recourse. 65% of American’s approve of labor unions. 60 million people would vote to join a union at their workplace today if given the opportunity, according to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Connecticut AFL-CIO President Sal Luciano (AFSCME):

Our nation is in desperate need of labor law reform. Too often, the deck is stacked against working people who are trying to join together in union for safer working conditions and wages that can sustain their families. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the vast inequalities that have always existed in our state and in our country. But we have an opportunity to improve the lives of workers across the United States. The PRO Act will be one of the most important pieces of legislation for working people in a generation. It will not only increase worker power at a time when it’s sorely needed, it will help to ensure that our economic recovery is shared by all, not just the wealthy few.

Florida AFL-CIO President Mike Williams (IBEW):

Last week, the PRO Act was reintroduced into the United States House of Representatives. If passed, this bill would be a step in the right direction for America’s working people and would empower workers to exercise their right to organize freely. For decades, union-busting laws have prevented working people from having a voice in the workplace. The PRO Act is the most significant piece of proworker legislation since the New Deal. It would fight back against years of increasing inequality and reform labor laws that too often favor employers over working people. According to a recent Gallup poll, support for unions is at its highest level in almost two decades. Unfortunately, workers who try to unionize are met with tactics meant to sink any chance of their formation. If enacted, the PRO Act would reform and strengthen the National Labor Relations Board, end so-called “right to work” laws, and end the process of replacing striking employees. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent economic downturn that followed, has made the importance of representation in the workplace even clearer. Unions fight for safety on the job, solidarity between employees, and higher standards of living. For too long, employers have had the power to prevent working people from joining and forming unions. The PRO Act would put the decision to unionize back in control of working people. The Florida AFL-CIO calls on our elected officials in both the United States House of Representatives and Senate to make the right choice for America’s working families. It’s time to pass the PRO Act. Mike Williams is the President of the Florida AFL-CIO which represents over one million union members, retirees and their families in the state of Florida.

Hawaii State AFL-CIO President Randy Perreira (AFSCME):

The PRO Act is more than labor law reform legislation. It is a civil rights bill package that is a crucial step towards restoring workers’ rights that have been significantly eroding for decades. This decades-long erosion of workers’ rights is evidenced by stagnant wages, unsafe workplaces, and rising inequality…issues that union membership mitigates. Economist Henry Farber said, “When unions were strong, inequality tended to be lower.” According to a 2018 study by Farber and other Princeton Economists, over the past 80 years, unions have consistently provided workers with wages 10% to 20% higher than their non-union counterparts. With the passage of the PRO Act, labor unions will have the impetus to organize workers without employers interfering and even frustrating the process. Workers will have a stronger voice and more bargaining power. Like a rising tide raises all boats, organized workforces can further expand opportunities for all workers, especially women, immigrants, people of color, and the LGBTQ community. Reach out to your U.S. Congressional Representatives and U.S. Senators to let them know that you too support the PRO Act.

Idaho AFL-CIO President Joe Maloney (IBEW):

The Idaho AFL-CIO representing teachers, postal workers, federal government employees, and more support the introduction of the PRO Act in the U.S. Senate and House. The PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act is significant legislation that will make a positive impact on all American Workers from making it easier to have a voice on the job to dramatically increasing penalties for employers that violate workers’ rights. In Idaho, inequality has skyrocketed because union membership has dwindled and policymakers have failed to pass pro-worker labor laws. Now it is time to Idaho’s congress members to right that wrong by supporting the PRO Act. Idaho’s working families look forward to the passage of the PRO Act. It’s about time we stand up to the corporate bosses continuing to engage in unfair and underhanded practices that undermine workers. Workers have a historic right to organize themselves and it is our duty to protect it. Idaho’s workers deserve to earn better wages and build safer, fairer workplaces for themselves.

Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea (UFCW) and Secretary-Treasurer Pat Devaney (IAFF):

Our labor laws are there to protect workers. They have become woefully outdated, weakened by corporate political influence, and so riddled with loopholes providing little protection for workers seeking to improve their lot by joining with their co-workers and speaking as one with a union. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the failings of our laws to provide workers safety and security. The best way to insure the long-term economic health of our nation, rebuild our middle class, close the income inequality gap, as well as bridge racial and gender divides on the job is to give workers power to band together concerning their livelihoods. We will engage our member households in a campaign across the state to mobilize for passage in the House and Senate and getting President Biden’s signature.

Indiana AFL-CIO:

The PRO Act is the most substantial pro-worker legislation we’ve seen in generations. It would protect and empower Hoosier workers, making it easier to organize unions and collectively bargain for better pay, benefits, and working conditions. It would also repeal right-to-work laws across the country, including right here in Indiana,” said Indiana AFL-CIO President Brett Voorhies. Nearly a year ago, the House of Representatives passed the PRO Act, but then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to bring the bill up for a vote in the Senate. With a new Democratic majority and President Biden’s promise to “be the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen,” working people expect to be a priority and will hold President Biden to his word.

Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO: 

We are proud of our United States of America. The American dream is a value we hold dear and nothing shall impede us on that journey. One of the keys to that dream is dignity in the workplace. We deserve equity, respect, a safe working environment and a fair wage for a day’s work. However, our woefully outdated labor laws are no longer effective as a means for working people to counter the power of corporate America. Its long past due for labor law reform. Across the political spectrum, people are coming to the realization, if they already had not, that the tables are tilted in favor of powerful corporations. The PRO Act will change the power dynamics in America and give working people a real say in your own future. Today, the PRO Act was introduced in the United States Congress. The PRO Act is the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression because it will empower workers to exercise our freedom to organize, ensure that workers can reach a first contract, it will hold corporations accountable, and repeal Jim Crow era laws like “right to work,” which lead to lower wages, fewer benefits, and more dangerous workplaces. The PRO Act will make America’s economy work for working people. Here’s why: when union membership is greater, all of our wages are better. Between 1948 and 1973, when New Deal era laws expanded and enforced collective bargaining, hourly wages rose by more than 90%. But over the next 40 years—from 1973 to 2013—hourly wages rose by just over 9% while productivity increased 74%. As it is, workers are not getting paid a fair share of what we produce. Workers in America favor unions and tens of millions want to join one. Research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows nearly 60 million people would vote to join a union today if given the opportunity. That is nearly half of nonunion workers. The PRO Act is how our laws catch up, with workers embracing collective action with a fervor not seen in generations. The PRO Act is the future, and the future is now.

Maine AFL-CIO:

“The PRO Act will empower workers to exercise our freedom to organize and bargain for a better life. It will give workers the tools to build an economy that works for all of us, not just those at the top,” said Cynthia Phinney, president of the Maine AFL-CIO. During this pandemic, as frontline workers across the country organize for better lives and safer workplaces, it is high time our labor laws encourage collective bargaining so we can build a better economic future for everyone.” “This is by far the strongest piece of labor legislation endorsed by a president in several decades. As a candidate, President Biden promised to sign the PRO Act and union members across the country intend to organize, mobilize and help him push this important bill across the finish line,” Phinney continued. “Currently, when workers want to form a union at work, they are forced to go through a complex and archaic process designed to allow employers to harass and intimidate workers who stand up for their rights at work. Most recently these unfair and egregious management practices have been on full display in the anti-union campaigns at Maine Medical Center and Portland Museum of Art.” As several studies have shown, more unions means less income inequality. Between 1948 and 1973, when New Deal-era laws expanded and enforced collective bargaining, hourly wages rose by more than 90%. However, anti-union laws like the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act have made it extremely difficult to form unions, causing income inequality to skyrocket. From 1973 to 2013, hourly wages rose by just over 9% while productivity increased 74%. But in recent years, unions have become very popular with the public. Research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows nearly 60 million people would vote to join today if given the opportunity. A recent Gallup survey found that union approval stands at 65%, one of the highest levels in a half-century. The PRO Act is more than labor law reform, it’s civil rights legislation. “A union contract is the single best tool we have to close racial and gender wage gaps, and to ensure dignity and due process for all workers,’ said Phinney. “Expanding collective bargaining will increase protections for women, people of color, immigrants and the LGBTQ community in areas where our laws are still falling short.” “Maine union members along with our brothers and sisters in other states organized, knocked on doors and made thousands of calls last year to elect a pro-worker trifecta in the House, Senate and White House to pass the PRO Act and other pro-worker legislation,” Phinney added. “Lawmakers gave us their word that the PRO Act would be a top priority. Now it is time for action.”

Michigan AFL-CIO:

Over the last several decades, inequality has skyrocketed as nearly every amendment to the National Labor Relations Act has made it more difficult for workers to form unions, and anti-worker judges have chipped away at what’s left of our rights. “We have a generational opportunity to pass real labor law reform through this Congress that will protect the right to organize,” said Ron Bieber, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “The House already passed the PRO Act last year, but it was blocked by the anti-worker Senate. Then working people gave us a mandate for change, with a majority in both houses of Congress and the White House. “Right now our country is at a historic inflection point. Over the last four decades, productivity has soared by 74%, but wages have increased by just 9%. Working folks are hurting from the pandemic, the recession, and historic racial and gender wage gaps, while corporations and the wealthy are doing better than ever before. It’s time for our country to build back better, and that starts with protecting the right to organize.” The PRO Act is the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression. It will: 1. Empower workers to exercise our freedom to organize and bargain. 2. Ensure that workers can reach a first contract quickly after a union is recognized. 3. End employers’ practice of retaliating against striking workers by hiring permanent replacements. 4. Hold corporations accountable by strengthening the National Labor Relations Board and allowing it to penalize employers who retaliate against working people in support of the union or collective bargaining. 5. Repeal “right to work” laws that lead to lower wages, fewer benefits and more dangerous workplaces. 6. Create pathways for workers to form unions in newer industries like Big Tech. As a candidate, President Biden pledged to sign the PRO Act into law. Lawmakers joined him in giving working people their word that the PRO Act would be a top priority. Since then, every Democrat in Michigan’s Congressional delegation has signed on as a co-sponsor of the PRO Act. Now it is time for action.

Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy (UNITE HERE):

The pandemic has made it even clearer that working people in Minnesota and across the nation need the voice, equity, and security that comes with a union contract. The PRO Act will update our nation’s woefully antiquated labor laws to finally give workers the true freedom to negotiate a fair return on their work. The PRO Act would give real teeth to our labor laws by preventing employers from engaging in anti-union activity like firing or punishing workers for union activity and stalling on negotiating a first contract. It would finally repeal “right to work – the divisive and racist laws created during the Jim Crow era and passed in our neighboring states—that lead to lower wages, fewer benefits and more dangerous workplaces. Minnesota’s Labor Movement applauds Representatives Craig, McCollum, and Omar for co-sponsoring this groundbreaking and transformative legislation. The rest of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation can show they stand with working Minnesotans by signing on as PRO Act cosponsors.

Mississippi AFL-CIO President Robert Shaffer (IBB):

The Mississippi AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters across America as we call for the passage of the PRO Act by Congress. In a so-called “right to work” state, we have first-hand knowledge of the power wielded by profit mongers to keep working Mississippians from realizing the success they deserve. Our state is at the bottom of most quality of life measures, and that wasn’t achieved by accident. A century of suppressing workers’ rights and catering to corporate demands has yielded low pay and restricted benefits for workers. Our people deserve better, and we welcome the opportunity to fight for them with the power of the PRO Act supporting us. We thank President Trumka for his fight for all working people and look forward to seeing the PRO Act become a reality. It is time for American workers to reclaim their rightful place as the backbone of America.”

Missouri AFL-CIO:

The PRO Act motivated us this past election cycle to mobilize for a pro-worker trifecta in the U.S. House, Senate, and White House. Working families won a mandate and we call on Congress to pass the PRO Act to increase worker power, rebuild our economy fairly and grow Missouri’s labor movement. “Workers in America favor unions and tens of millions want to join one,” stated Missouri AFL-CIO President Jake Hummel. “Research shows that nearly 60 million people would vote to join a union today if given the opportunity. The PRO Act eliminates barriers and empowers workers to organize for a strong voice on the job in a union.” The PRO Act is the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression because it will: 1. Empower workers to exercise our freedom to organize and bargain. 2. Ensure that workers can reach a first contract quickly after a union is recognized. 3. End employers’ practice of punishing striking workers by hiring permanent replacements. Speaking up for labor rights is within every worker’s rights—and workers shouldn’t lose our jobs for it. 4. Hold corporations accountable by strengthening the National Labor Relations Board and allowing it to penalize employers who retaliate against working people in support of the union or collective bargaining. 5. Repeal “right to work” laws—divisive and racist laws created during the Jim Crow era—that lead to lower wages, fewer benefits, and more dangerous workplaces. 6. Create pathways for workers to form unions, without fear, in newer industries like Big Tech. “65% of Americans approve of labor unions, one of the highest marks in a half-century,” stated Missouri AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Merri Berry. “Inequality has skyrocketed because union membership has dwindled and policymakers have failed to pass pro-worker labor laws. The PRO Act is a once in a generation labor law bill that could change the trajectory for workers in Missouri.” The PRO Act will make America’s economy work for working people. When union membership is greater, our wages are better. Between 1948 and 1973, when New Deal-era laws expanded and enforced collective bargaining, hourly wages rose by more than 90%. But over the next 40 years—from 1973 to 2013—hourly wages rose by just over 9% while productivity increased 74%. As it is, workers are not getting paid a fair share of what we produce. “The PRO Act is more than labor law reform, it’s civil rights legislation. A union contract is the single best tool we have to close racial and gender wage gaps, and to ensure dignity and due process for workers, regardless of where we were born, who we are, or what industry we work in,” stated Missouri AFL-CIO Vice President Reginald Thomas. “Expanding collective bargaining will increase protections for women, people of color, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community in areas where our laws are still falling short. We must pass the PRO Act.” The Missouri AFL-CIO is strongly calling on Congress to make the PRO Act a priority piece of legislation and pass it to empower Missouri’s workers.

Montana AFL-CIO:

At the Montana AFL-CIO we represent over 50,000 workers who believe all working people deserve good jobs and the power to determine their wages and working conditions. Montana’s working families know it is vital that congress pass the PRO Act—the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression. Across the country nearly 60 million people say they would join a union today if they could. However, greedy corporations are trying to block workers’ efforts to organize by using woefully outdated labor laws that interfere with the collective bargaining process and tell workers what they can and can’t negotiate for, undermining workers’ fundamental rights to speak for themselves. Just take the “right to work” laws being proposed in our state legislature. These laws are being pushed by an out-of-state corporate front group attempting to enrich billionaires while depressing wages and local economic prosperity. “It is time, we as workers, take back that power and we urge our members of congress to pass the PRO Act. Montana’s working families have the right to a voice on the job and the right to negotiate for wages that keep a roof over their heads,” stated Montana AFL-CIO Executive Secretary Al Ekblad. “Not only are we going to reject the so-called “Right to Work” laws in the legislature– we’re going to be fighting for more than the status quo because Montana’s working families deserve it.” 

Nebraska State AFL-CIO:

The AFL-CIO is the conduit that unifies the labor movement across America. No matter if you are living in a right-to-work State, have a labor friendly Governor, high union density or just the opposite, we all are unified as brothers and sisters seeking fairness and equality and we want what is the very best opportunities for working people. Never before have we seen the need in this country to tip the balance and provide workers with the means to ensure that their voice is heard and have the ability to bring fairness and equality back into the workplace. It is time to get the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act passed. For far too long, this country has been rigged against union workers and those choosing to organize. Passing this legislation will provide a clear path for workers to organize without interference or intimidation from their employer. The purpose of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is to provide a way for working people to collectively bargain with their employer, so they have a say in their working conditions, but employers have abused this act and the true intent has been whittled away with lack of enforcement and penalties for employers who try to circumvent the process. The Pro Act will strengthen the National Labor Relations Act and truly provide a path forward for those seeking to organize a union. Union support among workers is high and now is the time to pass the Pro Act to truly allow those who want a better life for themselves and their family the ability to do so. We must all work together to handle the public health crisis in a way that we protect all workers, we must all work together to prevent systemic racism and we must all work together to ensure equity and equality for all Americans. Working with the National AFL-CIO and all labor organizations throughout the United States, we will persevere in our efforts to pass the PRO Act and make this nation one that works for all working people. 

New Jersey State AFL-CIO:

With the expected re-introduction in Congress of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act on Thursday, February 4–the PRO Act–America’s workers will begin their campaign to achieve the meaningful federal labor law reforms they have been seeking for decades. The PRO Act, which was blocked by the previous anti-worker Senate, will give everyone the right to organize and bargain collectively for better wages, benefits and workplace conditions through a good union contract. Once the PRO Act is passed, key provisions of the legislation will give working men and women the ability to reach a first contract after organizing, repeal so-called “right-to-work” laws that lead to lower wages, ban the hiring of permanent replacement workers to punish striking employees, and strengthen the National Labor Relations Board, which became the lapdog of big business under the previous administration. Two-thirds of Americans favor labor unions, and half of America’s workers in every sector of labor would join a union if they could. The PRO Act will give America’s working men and women a real say in their futures. We need the PRO Act. The New Jersey State AFL-CIO urges the House and Senate to pass the PRO Act quickly in a bipartisan manner. 

North Shore Labor Council (Massachusetts):

The North Shore Labor Council stands firmly with our sisters and brothers across the country in support of the PRO ACT. Working to organize new members into the labor movement over the years, we’ve seen how employers and their hired guns can use the weakness of the current law to undermine working people’s democratic rights to form a union with their co-workers. For decades, the system designed for the bosses, by the bosses, has contributed to a society where the rich and powerful wield an inordinate amount of power. To restore the vibrancy of our democracy, the working class needs more power in the workplace, the marketplace, and at the ballot box. Passing the PRO ACT is an important step in that direction.”

New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento (CWA):

The New York State AFL-CIO stands shoulder-to-shoulder with union members across the country in support of the PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) ACT. It is the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression because it will expand collective bargaining ensuring workers can exercise our freedom to organize. Once a union is recognized, it will ensure workers reach a first contract quickly and it will hold accountable any employer who punishes striking workers or retaliates against collective bargaining. We already know that when union membership is greater, our wages, benefits and quality of life are better. Passing the PRO ACT is exactly the legislation we need to help lift working people out of the most challenging health and economic crisis of our lifetime. We call on all members of New York’s congressional delegation to support the bill and fight for its swift passage.”

North Carolina State AFL-CIO President MaryBe McMillan (IUOE):

The PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act being reintroduced in Congress today is a game-changer for workers in North Carolina. After seeing the PRO Act pass the U.S. House in 2020 only to be blocked by an anti-worker Senate, working people poured our hearts and souls into electing new leaders and won a mandate for federal action in the last election. Now with President Biden and pro-worker majorities in both houses of Congress, we have a generational opportunity to make America’s economy and democracy work for working people again. The PRO Act does that by ending misleading and racist “right to work” laws and creating meaningful consequences for employers that retaliate against workers for simply exercising their right to organize. All working people should have the freedom to join together in unions and collectively negotiate for better, safer working conditions. We strongly urge every member of our congressional delegation to sponsor the PRO Act and fight for its passage.

Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga (USW):

The introduction of the PRO Act is welcome news and a very important part of the Workers First Agenda that the labor movement is pushing for in this Congress. The PRO Act is needed because our woefully outdated labor laws are no longer effective as a means for working people to have our voices heard. By empowering workers to exercise our freedom to organize and bargain, the PRO Act will hold corporations accountable by strengthening the National Labor Relations Board and allowing it to penalize employers who retaliate against working people in support of the union or collective bargaining. Public support for unions is soaring. In a recent Gallup survey, 65% of Americans have a favorable view of labor unions and another study by MIT showed that nearly 60 million Americans would join a union in their workplace if they could. Here in Ohio, we are marking the 10-year anniversary of our effort to repeal SB5. By more than a margin of two-to-one, Ohioans rejected the attack on Ohio public employees’ right to collectively bargain in 2011. A union contract is the single best tool we have to raise wages, close racial and gender wage gaps, and to ensure safety, dignity and due process for workers, regardless of where we were born, who we are or what industry we work in. We commend Senator Brown and Representatives Beatty, Kaptur and Ryan for signing on to the bill as co-sponsors. We will be working with our entire delegation to do the same.

Oregon AFL-CIO President Graham Trainor (IBEW): 

Today’s introduction of the PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act in the 117th Congress is a generational opportunity and the cornerstone of the American Labor Movement’s Workers First Agenda. Passed by the House in 2020, this critical legislation has been blocked by an anti-worker Senate majority, but working people fought tooth and nail to secure a pro-worker trifecta in the House, Senate, and the White House to ensure we can pass laws like the PRO Act that help working people. Our nation’s labor laws are woefully ineffective and no longer allow for working people to be heard. Inequality has skyrocketed because union membership has dwindled and policymakers have failed, year after year, to pass laws to fix the problem. Our economy before the COVID-19 pandemic was fractured, with all the wealth resting in the hands of the few while far too many struggled to provide for their families. Since last March, it has only gotten worse, but our resolve has never been stronger. We have to make American’s economy work for working people and greater union membership is key to solving our nation’s woes. It is time to build back better, with unions. The PRO Act’s positive economic impact cannot be overstated, as tens of millions of Americans say they would join a union if given the opportunity. The majority of Americans support unions and collective bargaining, the highest mark in nearly half a century. This is about making that opportunity easier for more workers, because we know that through a union we see a fair return on our hard work and a safe way to speak up on the job. Passing the PRO Act is not just a way to make joining a union easier, it will put our country on a path toward greater equity. A union contract is the single best tool we have to close racial and gender wage gaps, and to ensure dignity and due process for workers, regardless of where we were born, who we are or what industry we work in. Oregon’s unions applaud Senators Wyden and Merkley for their continued commitment to stand with working people in reforming our nation’s labor laws, as well as Congresswoman Bonamici, Congressmen DeFazio and Blumenauer for their support of the PRO Act last year on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Unfortunately, we continue to be disappointed by Congressman Schrader’s lack of support for the PRO Act, the only Democratic member of Oregon’s House delegation to oppose the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression when it came up for a vote in 2020. We look forward to working with Oregon’s Congressional delegation to ensure the PRO Act becomes the law of the land this year. Working Americans have been demanding help and economic relief since long before the pandemic. This bill is one of the most meaningful changes Congress can make to help our nation live up to its promise of freedom and equality. 

Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale (AFSCME) and Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder (USW):

Pennsylvania workers are about to see a new day for their rights on the job. The multi-billion-dollar union-busting industry will do everything it can to continue to deprive and attack workers’ rights. But the power of working people will seize this moment, and their voices will be heard. We commend our Commonwealth’s bi-partisan delegation of PRO Act co-sponsors for their commitment to all working people. We urge the rest of our representatives to do sign on and support this step toward economic justice,” remarked President Rick Bloomingdale. “So-called ‘right to work’ laws are the last actual vestige of Jim Crow legislation. Designed by an architect of hatred, these laws aimed to keep Black workers out of unions in the South. It worked so well in depriving all working people of their rights on the job that corporations and anti-union interests exported this legislation to every state they could to destroy workers’ rights across the Country. The PRO Act will finally remove this discriminatory attack on economic rights in America. This is an historic act in the fight to dismantle systemic discrimination and racism,” stated Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder.

Rhode Island AFL-CIO President George Nee (OPEIU) and Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Crowley (NEA):

The Rhode Island AFL-CIO stands firmly with our sisters and brothers across the country in support of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. Working to organize new members into the labor movement over the years, we’ve seen how employers and their hired guns can use the weakness of the current law to undermine working people’s democratic rights to form a union with their co-workers. For decades, the system designed for the bosses, by the bosses, has contributed to a society where the rich and powerful wield an inordinate amount of power. To restore the vibrancy of our democracy, the working class needs more power in the workplace, the marketplace, and at the ballot box. Passing the PRO ACT is an important step in that direction.

Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council President Billy Dycus (USW) and Secretary-Treasurer A.J. Starling (ATU): 

Today’s introduction of the PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act is a pivotal moment for working families across the country and right here in Tennessee. For too long, our antiquated labor laws have made it difficult to effectively make our voices heard and secure a seat at the table. Passing the PRO Act gives us an opportunity to change the conversation and ensure that the components of a Workers’ First Agenda are sufficiently implemented, ushering in the bold change that we deserve. In the “Right to Work” state of Tennessee, we’ve seen the negative effects of what happens when the power and influence of big business goes unchecked. From dismally-low wages that have failed to rise with the cost of living for generations, to a higher number of workers dying on the job, those who have made it their mission to keep us down must be held accountable for their actions. The PRO Act is a good first step in making sure that happens. Working families joined together and spoke up in record numbers this past November. Now, we must do the same again to ensure that this historic legislation passes both chambers of Congress, is signed by President Biden, and ultimately becomes law. By increasing worker power, we can rebuild our economy fairly and ensure that it works for all working families. We are prepared to join together in solidarity with our brothers and sisters across the country so that we begin our journey of building back better.

Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy (TSEU/CWA) and Secretary-Treasurer Montserrat Garibay (AFT):

The Texas economy benefits when working people have a fair shot at improving their lives by speaking up together on the job. By taking out decades of one-sided barriers to forming unions, the PRO Act would raise standards for all Texas working families. As the pandemic shines new light on how central workplace safety, job security and decent benefits are to working families, the popularity of labor unions has reached a generational high. But there is a gap between approval of unions (nearly two-thirds in the Gallup poll) and union membership (less than 11% nationally and less than 6% in Texas). A big part of that gap stems from major flaws in federal law that have allowed union busters to thrive. The PRO Act would restore meaning to our national goal, declared in federal law, of encouraging collective bargaining. Proposed reforms in the bill include elimination of so-called ‘right to work’ laws. The laws, which originated in Texas and stand as a relic to Jim Crow, go hand in hand with poverty wages, absence of key benefits, on-the-job discrimination, and lax worker safety. Americans voted for change on Nov. 3. It is time to give the legitimate desire of working people to join unions a fair shot. We call on Congress to pass the PRO Act so President Biden can sign it into law.

Virginia AFL-CIO:

Virginia AFL-CIO recognizes that for too long now workers have been denied the basic right to join together and now is the right time to do the right thing by passing the PRO Act because it helps us build an economy that works for all working families. America’s democracy, economy, and livelihood continues to be built on the backs of the working people. We cannot stand by and continue to allow the voices of workers to be muted while their work is capitalized upon. Simply put–the right to organize isn’t something that should be negotiated. Virginia AFL-CIO believes in restoring our middle class and to do it, we must strengthen the collective power of workers to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions–passing the PRO Act is the step needed to secure guaranteed fairness on the job through the collective power of workers.

Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO:

Last year, Washington’s Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell co-sponsored the PRO Act, and Reps. Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith and then-Rep. Denny Heck all co-sponsored and voted for it. This year, the WSLC is urging each of them—and new Rep. Marilyn Strickland—to continue supporting the PRO Act. The WSLC will also be asking Republican Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers to reconsider their past opposition. The PRO Act is comprehensive labor legislation that would strengthen workers’ right to organize a union and bargain for higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions. It passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020, but was blocked by an anti-labor majority in the Senate. Last fall, this bill motivated union members across the nation to mobilize for a pro-worker trifecta in the U.S. House, Senate and White House. Working people won a mandate and now they want passage of the PRO Act. “Our labor laws are woefully outdated and no longer empower working people to have their voices heard,” said WSLC President Larry Brown. “The National Labor Relations Act was passed in 1935, but it has been chipped away ever since. Now, forming a union is unacceptably difficult, and for some, it’s impossible. Studies have shown that 60 million Americans would join a union today if they could. The PRO Act is their chance to regain their freedom to choose a union. It’s time to pass the PRO Act and build back better with unions!” “After decades of wealthy corporations undermining our labor laws and four years of the Trump Administration’s attacks on workers’ rights, the PRO Act will restore workers’ ability to join together to demand their fair share of the economic growth they drive,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “This legislation is critical to supporting workers in Washington state and across the country during this pandemic and to building back an economy that works for everyone—not just those at the very top. It’s time we pass the PRO Act and protect workers’ right to stand together and fight for better pay, quality health care, a safer workplace, and a secure retirement.” The most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression, the PRO Act will: 1. Empower workers to exercise our freedom to organize and bargain. 2. Ensure that workers can reach a first contract quickly after a union is recognized. 3. End employers’ practice of punishing striking workers by hiring permanent replacements. Speaking up for labor rights is within every worker’s rights—and workers shouldn’t lose our jobs for it. 4. Hold corporations accountable by strengthening the National Labor Relations Board and allowing it to penalize employers who retaliate against working people in support of the union or collective bargaining. 5. Repeal “right to work” laws—divisive and racist laws created during the Jim Crow era—that lead to lower wages, fewer benefits and more dangerous workplaces. 6. Create pathways for workers to form unions, without fear, in newer industries like Big Tech. “Inequality has skyrocketed because union membership has dwindled and policymakers have failed to pass pro-worker labor laws,” Brown said. ”The PRO Act is more than labor law reform, it’s civil rights legislation. A union contract is the single best tool we have to close racial and gender wage gaps, and to ensure dignity and due process for workers, regardless of where we were born, who we are or what industry we work in.”

Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Stephanie Bloomingdale (AFT):

America can build back better with unions by ensuring the passage of the PRO Act. Our woefully outdated labor laws no longer serve as an effective means for working people to have our voices heard and our rights realized. As a result, income inequality has skyrocketed and too many workers lost jobs or faced unsafe working conditions during the pandemic. Workers are embracing collective action with a dedication not seen in generations. Research tells us that nearly half of all nonunion workers would join a union if given the chance. Yet the system is stacked against a worker ever signing a first union contract. Companies spend millions to break or skirt labor law and face such low consequences that illegal anti-union tactics are commonplace. A union contract is the single best tool we have to close racial and gender wage gaps, raise wages to build a strong middle class, and ensure dignity and due process for workers, regardless of where we were born, who we are or what industry we work in. The passage of the PRO Act would help bring the American Dream within reach for millions of workers and spur economic growth for all. The PRO Act is the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression. We thank Senator Tammy Baldwin, Representative Gwen Moore, Representative Mark Pocan, and Representative Ron Kind for co-sponsoring the PRO Act and call on the entire Wisconsin congressional delegation to support this vital legislation. It’s time for bold action for America’s working people. It’s time for the PRO Act.

Wyoming State AFL-CIO: 

The Wyoming AFL-CIO representing working families joins in the national call for Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act being introduced today. Across Wyoming in 2020, American heroes in grocery stores, the U.S. Postal Service, hospitals and more became known as “essential workers,” and many of them had to risk their lives by going to work in unsafe conditions. Later we came to find out, in 2020, Wyoming once again led the nation in on-the-job deaths per capita. As the coronavirus crisis continues into 2021 and deadly workplace risks remain, there has never been a more important time to give workers more voice and power. “For Wyoming’s workers coming home from work is a roll of dice. The PRO Act is the first step in protecting families from the heartache of missing someone around the dinner table because they didn’t have a voice on the job. We urge every Wyoming congress member to support the PRO Act, stand with workers, and keep returning home. The PRO Act would hold employers accountable and institute civil penalties for violations of the law, our state desperately needs this legislation,” stated Wyoming AFL-CIO Executive Secretary Tammy Johnson.

Kenneth Quinnell
Wed, 02/10/2021 – 11:18

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Updated: February 15, 2021 — 11:55 pm