PRO Act Introduced in Congress
The bill would repeal Right to Work and has the support of President Biden
The Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act was reintroduced into the House and Senate on Thursday. This piece of legislation would be the biggest overhaul of labor law since WWII and is a top priority for unions.
The PRO Act has been languishing in the Senate since last year when the House passed a similar version of the bill. At the time, the PRO Act had bipartisan support with five Republicans supporting the bill.
Some of the significant changes that the PRO Act would make include:
- Creating monetary penalties against employers who try to illegally bust unions
- Strengthening protections for workers who are wrongly fired during union organizing campaigns
- Allowing workers to take employers to court when they’ve broken collective bargaining laws
- Making it easier for newly formed unions to secure their first contracts
- Bolstering workers’ rights related to strikes and boycotts
- Overriding anti-union “right to work” laws that have now spread to a majority of states
- Making it harder for companies like Uber to avoid unions by using “independent contractors”
“Today, working people are one step closer to freely exercising our most fundamental rights on the job,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “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.”
The bill was introduced in the House by Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) who chairs the Labor Committee and in the Senate by Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
“The decades-long assault on workers’ rights – led by special interests in state legislatures, courts, and employers across the country – has suppressed union membership and eroded America’s middle class,” said Scott. “The Protecting the Right to Organize Act is a major step toward ensuring that workers can exercise their basic right to form a union and collectively bargain for higher pay, safer working conditions, and decent benefits – including paid leave, quality health care, and a secure retirement.”
While the PRO Act is expected to pass in the House, it faces an uncertain future in the Senate. With the Senate tied at 50-50, Democrats would need to convince 10 Republicans to let the bill move forward or eliminate the filibuster.
Unions are promising a strong push to get the bill passed. They made this a key talking point during the 2020 election. President Joe Biden at the time said he supported the bill and Vice President Kamala Harris was a co-sponsor of the bill in the Senate last year. However, unions will need all of their members' support, especially if they live in a state with a Republican Senator, to pressure Senators to vote for the bill.
“We will make our case in every state and every congressional district, to elected leaders across the political spectrum,” said Trumka. “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.”