Led by Golden and Levin, 110 Lawmakers Push for Quick Action to Protect the Right to Organize
WASHINGTON — Congressmen Jared Golden (ME-02) and Andy Levin (MI-09) led 110 of their colleagues in a letter to House leadership this week calling for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act to be brought directly to the House floor for a vote.
The PRO Act, the most comprehensive pro-labor legislation in decades, provides updated protections for workers and unions, gives them more power to negotiate with employers, and imposes more meaningful penalties on employers who violate the law.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, unions have made the difference for many workers between safe and unsafe working conditions. Without unions, many workers have been forced to work without personal protective equipment, access to paid leave, or hazard pay,” the lawmakers said. “When nonunion workers have advocated for these health and safety protections or pay increases, they have often been fired. This lack of basic protection has led to thousands of essential workers becoming infected with COVID-19, and many dying as a result… The PRO Act would respond to these needs with bold, comprehensive reforms to strengthen unions and the American workforce.”
“Mainers saw the power of unions this summer, when Local S6 shipbuilders at Bath Iron Works stood together to get a fair deal from their shipyard. Working people are powerful when they join together,” said Golden. “But as we see all over the country in the era of COVID-19 — from nurses in Maine to Amazon workers in Alabama — union-busting tactics are all too common and workers’ rights need to be defended. The PRO Act provides crucial protections to help workers unionize and demand fair pay, a safe workplace, and good benefits. I’m proud to lead 110 of my colleagues with Congressman Levin to help get this bill on the floor of the House as soon as possible.”
“Our country was already facing the worst income and wealth inequality in years before the pandemic hit,” said Rep. Levin. “The single most important thing we can do to address this is to allow workers the freedom to form a union and bargain collectively for higher wages, better benefits and safer working conditions – during the public health crisis and beyond. We have failed to pass any meaningful private sector labor law reform for eighty-six years. We did the work necessary last Congress to bring this bill straight to the floor now, and we cannot ask American workers to wait any longer for their shot at a good-paying job, a dignified retirement and quality health care for their families.”
The 2021 PRO Act has more than 200 bipartisan co-sponsors, and the support of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW).
IAMAW, the Teamsters, and other labor unions applauded the push:
“The PRO Act expands the enforcement powers of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and strengthens protections for employees that engage in collective action. The right to form a union without the threat of company intimidation or interference is denied to workers today. This bold piece of legislation modernizes federal laws and establishes a process for mediation and arbitration to help the parties achieve a first contract. It protects workers’ right to organize a union and bargain for higher wages and better benefits.” — Robert Martinez, Jr., International President, IAMAW
“The PRO Act will strengthen the National Labor Relations Act so that workers seeking to organize a union and negotiate higher wages and better benefits will be protected. Workers deserve a safe workplace, the ability to stand together and negotiate better working conditions, and to live a middle-class lifestyle.” — General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Golden and Levin were joined by Susan Wild (PA-07), Marie Newman (IL-03), Conor Lamb (PA-17), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Peter A. DeFazio (OR-04), Elaine G. Luria (VA-02), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Adam Schiff (CA-28), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Lori Trahan (MA-03), Joe Neguse (CO-02), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Thomas R. Suozzi (NY-03), Jason Crow (CO-06), André Carson (IN-07), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Dina Titus (NV-01), Angie Craig (MN-02), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Cori Bush (MO-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-05), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), David Scott (GA-13), Stephen Lynch (MA-08), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Nikema Williams (GA-05), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (GA-04), Jr., John Garamendi (CA-03), Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29), David Trone (MD-06), Cindy Axne (IA-03), Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (NY-16), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Robin L. Kelly (IL-02), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Mike Doyle (PA-18), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Adam Smith (WA-09), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Ritchie Torres (NY-15), Frank J. Mrvan (IN-01), John B. Larson (CT-01), Brian Higgins (NY-26), Joe Courtney (CT-02), Charlie Crist (FL-13), Peter Welch (VT), Matt Cartwright (PA-08), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Paul D. Tonko (NY-20), Chris Pappas (NH-01), John Yarmuth (KY-03), John P. Sarbanes (MD-03), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (MP), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Jake Auchincloss (MA-04), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Daniel T. Kildee (MI-05), Brendan F. Boyle (PA-02), Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14), Bill Foster (IL-11), Mark Takano (CA-41), Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Grace Meng (NY-06), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09), Judy Chu (CA-27), Steven Horsford (NV-04), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Al Green (TX-09), Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-03), Darren Soto (FL-09), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Andy Kim (NJ-03), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Joyce Beatty (OH-03) and Yvette D. Clark (NY-09).
You can read the letter to leadership here.