Congress Passes PRO Act
The workplace organizing bill faces uncertainty in ani-union Republican Senate
The Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act has passed its first hurdle as the Democratic-led House of Representatives voted to pass the bill.
The legislation, which has been described as possibly the largest expansion of labor rights in United States history, would do the following:
- Repeal Right to Work
- Modernize the definition of unfair labor practice to keep up with changing strategies and technology
- Create real penalties for employers who prevent their employees from forming a union. Penalties would include stronger fines and would allow employees to file lawsuits against their union-busting employers.
- Require employers to bargain in good faith with unions
- Protect a union’s right to strike
- Extend the right to join a union to new groups of workers who were previously excluded
The PRO Act passed the House with 224 votes. 219 Democrats voted for it, along with 5 Republicans.
“It’s unfortunate that workers need an act of Congress to get us back to the original intent of the National Labor Relations Act,” said IBEW International President Lonnie R. Stephenson. “But it’s heartening that House members from both parties can agree on a strategy for strengthening this landmark law that has helped make the lives of countless working people better over the last 85 years.”
The bill had sat largely untouched for months after it passed through the House Education and Labor Committee in September. However, a strong lobbying campaign by union members from across the country convinced 76 Representatives to sign onto a letter in support of a full vote.
“The PRO Act is the labor movement’s number one legislative priority this year for a reason,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Working people are hungry for a bill that will ensure a process for reaching the first contract once a union is recognized, prevent the misclassification of employees, protect the right to strike and so much else. America is ready for more unions; and a happier, healthier and upwardly mobile workforce will help reverse the inequality of income, opportunity and power that is threatening our families, our communities and our democracy.”
The bill will now head to the Senate where it faces an uncertain future. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems unlikely to bring it up for a vote. However, many unions are continuing to pressure their Senators to give it a vote.
“It took years for working people to finally get the Cadillac tax repealed,” Stephenson said. “But we won that fight against unfair taxes on our health benefits, and we’ll win this one too. We can and should keep up the pressure on our senators by telling them to support H.R. 2474 and by reminding all of our legislators that working people will remember their support for our priorities — or their lack of support — on Election Day.”
Tell your senators you support the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO Act) at (202) 224-3121 or senate.gov/senators/contact.