The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act is landmark legislation that gives workers a fair chance to organize a labor union at work without employer interference. Passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020, the legislation (H.R. 842 and S.420) now awaits a vote in the Senate.
This federal legislation, if passed by the Senate, accomplishes two primary objectives:
- Ensures workers can collectively push for the changes they want to see at their jobs without fear of retaliation.
- Strengthen workers’ rights to form a union and negotiate for the changes they choose.
Currently, there are no penalties for employers who illegally retaliate against, or fire workers for collective action to organize. Today’s labor laws are outdated and fail to protect working people who voice concerns or seek workplace improvements.
Aerospace professionals in Southern California working to organize at Boeing Seal Beach are among the employees who have been subjected to strong anti-union tactics by an employer.
Tactics designed to instill fear into employees at Seal Beach include:
- Security and management intimidation when employees handed out information fliers at entry gates.
- Management interference at lunchtime CREATE informational tables.
- Anti-union discussion and information included at new employee orientations.
- Anti-union literature spread throughout the worksite.
- Anti-union messages displayed on TV monitors.
- Anti-union email messages to employees from the plant manager.
- Over 100 “union containment” meetings run by managers.
The PRO Act will stop these anti-union tactics and allow employees to exercise their right to freely form a union without interference from a company or the high-priced anti-union law firms hired to kill union organizing campaigns.
For more information on the CREATE campaign efforts, visit their website www.create-speea.org.
The PRO Act helps employees advocate for improvements at work by:
- Enhancing employee protections: The PRO Act establishes financial penalties for companies and executives violating worker rights and labor laws. Corporate directors and other company officers can be held liable, finally ensuring companies have a financial incentive to prevent their leaders from violating worker protection laws.
- Closing loopholes in labor law that erode workers’ rights: The PRO Act prevents employers from misclassifying employees and precludes employers from denying remedies due to an employee's immigration status. Closing these major labor-law loopholes will level the playing field for workers, union or not, who are seeking fairer wages and working conditions.
- Ensuring workers have the freedom to join together: Passage of the PRO Act will ensure workers can form a union if they want to, free from employer interference and coercion. Some of employers’ worst practices, like hiring permanent replacements and forcing workers to sit through union-bashing sessions, will end. Employers who fire workers who speak up will face real penalties.
- Ending the ‘right-to-work-for-less’ ploy: A racist relic of the Jim Crow era, so-called “right-to-work” laws allow workers in union-represented workplaces to opt-out of contributing to union dues. Yet, the law allows these workers to receive all the benefits of union representation. The PRO Act allows unions to collect its fair share of collective bargaining and contract administration costs from all workers.
- Balancing the scales: Pre-pandemic, our nation’s top 0.1% of workers earned over 196 times the income of the bottom 90% of Americans. Post-pandemic, as ordinary Americans continue to suffer from health and economic impacts of the virus, billionaires and corporations watched their fortunes expand. The wealthiest five Americans increased their combined wealth by 85% during the pandemic. As the share of the workforce represented by a union declined in recent years to less than 11%, those at the top of the income scale watched their income skyrocket. The PRO Act “evens the scales” and gives working families the ability to negotiate for fair wages, better laws and an economy that works for everyone.