Golden Leads 75 Members of Congress to Call for Floor Vote on PRO Act
WASHINGTON — A group of 76 members of Congress, led by Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02), urged House leadership today to bring the bipartisan Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) to the House floor for a vote. The PRO Act would expand labor unions’ negotiating power, provide new protections for unions and workers, and stiffen penalties for companies that violate workers’ rights.
Despite strong support from 218 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and record high support for unions among the public, the PRO Act has not been scheduled for a House vote since it passed out of the Education & Labor Committee more than three months ago.
“We believe the time is now for the House to follow through on its commitment to advance major legislation to empower our nation’s workers. For decades, American workers have endured attacks on their wages and workplace rights,” the Members of Congress wrote. “The PRO Act is bold, comprehensive legislation to strengthen unions and the American workforce… We can and should pass it now.”
Union membership has declined in recent decades amidst special-interest funded attacks on labor laws. In their letter, the Members of Congress noted that the decline in union membership corresponds to stagnation in workers’ wages nationwide. In the last 40 years, income for the bottom half of earners has barely budged, while income for the top one percent of earners has increased by more than 200 percent.
The letter was applauded by labor leaders representing national and Maine-based unions.
“The PRO Act is a critical legislation that will empower America’s working people by allowing us to join a union without fear or intimidation and collectively bargain for a fair return on our work. At a time when working people are on the rise and fighting for justice and equality, it is vital that this bill is brought to the House floor and passed without any further delay.” - Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO
“The United States urgently needs the PRO Act. Workers who want to organize are currently vulnerable to a wide range of employer intimidation and retaliation that prevents them from joining together and improving their working conditions. Historically, unions have been a key part of building America’s middle class, but as labor rights have been sidelined, greedy corporations have fueled rising economic inequality. The PRO Act offers an opportunity to reverse this trend. Rep. Golden and other advocates of the bill should be commended for their continuing effort to ensure all workers have a stronger voice in the workplace.” - Tom Conway, International President, United Steel Workers
“In a nation “of by and for the people” there is no stronger protection than the right of individual citizens and workers to have a voice in their workplace. The PRO-Act does that by leveling the playing field so that every worker in our nation has the democratic right to be represented as an equal across the table from management. All Americans deserve that basic right. I strongly urge the House and Senate to pass this badly need legislation and send it to the President’s desk. I commend Representatives Golden and Rose and to every other member of Congress that has endorsed this critical legislation.” - Rory Gamble, President, United Auto Workers
"We're proud that our Congressman is once again on the vanguard of working families' issues. It's an objective fact that when workers join together, they are safer, better trained, more productive, have access to better health care and earn better wages. Unions not only built America's middle class, but they are increasingly the only bulwark against worker exploitation, labor trafficking and unsafe working conditions. It's high time Washington strikes a meaningful blow against corporate greed. Working Mainers call upon Congress to join Congressman Golden and pass the PRO Act immediately." - Jason J. Shedlock, Executive Director, Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council
“As billionaires and corporations amass unimaginable wealth in this country, workers continue to struggle with stagnant wages, poor working conditions and the inability to exercise their basic right to collectively bargain due to a system of laws rigged against them. The PRO Act is a common sense measure that will finally protect the rights of working people to form unions and give them the opportunity to bargain for a fair share of the wealth that they create. For decades politicians have pledged to support workers’ rights on the campaign trail, but have forgotten their promises when they arrived in Washington. With public support for unions at a near 50-year high, it’s time for leaders in Congress to respect the people who elected them and pass this important bill.” - Cynthia Phinney, President, Maine AFL-CIO
The PRO Act, introduced by Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (VA-03) would, among other things:
Expand unions’ negotiating power by:
- Enhancing workers’ right to support boycotts, strikes, and other acts of solidarity;
- Upholding workers’ rights to engage in collective or class-action litigation; and
- Improving newly formed unions’ ability to quickly reach a contract with their employer.
Provide new protections for unions and workers by:
- Strengthening support for workers who suffer retaliation for exercising their rights
- Preventing employers from interfering in union elections;
- Helping workers who report retaliation for exercising their rights to stay on the job, rather than enduring a long period of unemployment while they wait for their case to be heard; and
- Allowing the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to enforce its own rulings like other federal agencies. Under current law, NLRB must wait for a decision from the Court of Appeals.
Stiffen penalties for companies that violate workers’ rights by:
- Financially penalizing companies for wrongfully terminating workers or subjecting them to serious economic harm;
- Permitting the NLRB to hold corporate directors and officers liable for participating in violations of workers’ rights or knowing of and failing to prevent such violations; and
- Allowing workers to go straight to the courts to seek justice when employers interfere with their workplace rights. Current law only permits workers to seek assistance from the NLRB.
Read a copy of the Members of Congress’ letter here.