Unions to Dems: No PRO Act, No Money
Unions are threatening to withhold support from Senators that don't support the labor bill
With the PRO Act still short of the votes that are needed to pass the PRO Act, unions are ramping up the pressure on undecided Senators to get the bill passed. This includes a week of action and a threat to pull support for any Senators who don’t support the bill.
In a private call between union leaders and the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, union leaders on Wednesday told the Senators not to expect them to support any Democrat who chooses to not support the PRO Act. This conversation was originally reported by POLITICO who spoke to three sources who were in the meeting.
Unions were said to be especially focused on Arizona Senator Mark Kelly who is up for reelection next year and is one of three Democratic Senators to not sign onto the bill. He is expected to face a tough reelection next year and will likely need the support of labor to win. The other two Democrats not supporting the bill are Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and Virginia’s Mark Warner.
According to POLITICO, the Painters union (IUPAT) was especially vocal about pulling their support. "We've been vocal and telling everyone that," the person said. "No money, no support of PRO."
Unions have long been the largest financial backer of the Democratic Party meaning that if they pull their support many Democrats would be in a lot of trouble. During the 2020 election, unions donated $27.5 million to President Biden and other groups supporting him so that they could get pro-union legislation like the PRO Act passed and signed into law.
During the call, union leaders reiterated to the Senators that PRO Act needs to be prioritized so that it does not go the way of the Employee Free Choice Act which failed to gain enough Democratic votes during President Obama’s first two years in office when Democrats had a filibuster-proof majority.
"If Senate Democrats won't try to do labor law reform now, when exactly is it they can promise that they will?” a person familiar with the Wednesday call said. “It's been decades. The time is now."
The Painters union was joined on the call by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). They underscored the importance of the PRO Act to labor," another person familiar with the call said. "The intent was to underline the importance of labor’s support to Democrats generally and the importance of the PRO Act to union members in both the private and public sectors."
In the last week, two previously undecided Senators, Angus King (I-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) have signed on to support the bill.
Union members will continue to keep up the pressure next week as the AFL-CIO has planned a Week of Action to Support the PRO Act, from April 26th through May 1. Informational leafleting, rallies, phone banks, and letter writing events are being planned around the country to push the three Senators to support the bill, to remind Democrats that the bill needs to be a priority and to attempt to convince some Republican Senators to support the bill. A full list of events can be found here.