WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and Democratic colleagues in the Senate and House today introduced the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, comprehensive labor legislation to protect workers’ right to stand together and bargain for fairer wages, better benefits, and safer workplaces. The legislation is co-sponsored by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (Va.-03), and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.-12) among others.
While wages are stagnant for the bottom 50% of workers, the top one percent of earners have seen their wages grow by 205 percent. This worsening income inequality has the deepest impact on women and workers of color, who disproportionately have jobs with lower wages and fewer, if any, benefits.
“The economic crisis created by the pandemic has made it clearer than ever how big corporations and wealthy special interests have used their power to bend the rules in their favor while working families have fallen further and further behind,” said Sen. Menendez. “Our nation was built on the shoulders of union workers and the middle class. Let’s protect their rights to organize and stand together to fight for fair pay and benefits, and ensure that we build back an economy that is fair and works for hard-working Americans.”
Unions are critical to increasing wages and addressing growing income inequality—with studies showing that union members earn on average 19 percent more than those with similar education, occupation, and experience in a non-union workplace. The PRO Act would reverse years of attacks on unions and restore fairness to the economy by strengthening the federal laws that protect workers’ right to join a union and bargain for higher wages and better benefits.
The PRO Act would protect the right to organize and collectively bargain by:
· Bolstering remedies and punishing violations of workers’ rights through authorizing meaningful penalties for employers that violate workers’ rights, strengthening support for workers who suffer retaliation for exercising their rights, and authorizing a private right of action for violation of workers’ rights.
· Strengthening workers’ right to join together and negotiate for better working conditions by enhancing workers’ right to support secondary boycotts, ensuring workers can collect “fair share” fees, modernizing the union election process, and facilitating initial collective bargaining agreements.
· Restoring fairness to an economy rigged against workers by closing loopholes that allow employers to misclassify their employees as supervisors and independent contractors and increasing transparency in labor-management relations.
The PRO Act is also co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.).
To read the section by section on the PRO Act, click HERE.
To read the full text of the PRO Act, click HERE.
April 22, 2021