U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is pushing for the passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, bicameral legislation to strengthen workers’ rights to organize and bargain for fairer wages, better benefits, and a safer workplace. Intensifying long-running trends, the coronavirus pandemic benefited the wealthiest individuals and many large corporations, while workers’ rights weakened and income inequality worsened — particularly for women and workers of color. The comprehensive labor legislation would bolster workers’ rights and address the income inequality crisis that has been severely exacerbated over the past year. In New York State, more than 1.6 million New Yorkers were members of unions as of 2020.
“For years the divide between the country’s wealthiest individuals and working families has been left unchecked and the pandemic only deepened these inequities,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Unions are a critical tool for workers, particularly women and people of color, to achieve a fair and equitable workplace. The PRO Act is long overdue legislation that would strengthen federal labor laws and level the playing field for hard-working Americans. I am proud to join my Democratic colleagues in supporting this legislation and I will keep fighting to restore and strengthen workers’ rights to ensure our economy works for everyone.”
“Unions are the backbone of our middle class, and we need to ensure our unions have the protections they need to help us as we Build Back Better. That’s why it is imperative that Congress pass the PRO Act and I commend Senator Gillibrand for standing beside our unions and those looking to form a union to ensure everyone has the opportunity to be part of America’s middle class,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan.
“On behalf of the over 20,000 Union construction workers in the Greater Capital Region, we are so proud to have such a champion for the working class in Senator Gillibrand. Protecting the right to organize is the cornerstone of the labor movement, and PRO Act manifests nearly all that’s missing in the law to protect workers’ rights. We are confident with leaders like the Senator that the PRO Act will receive the votes necessary to pass and allow millions of Americans to have a pathway to the middle class,” said Mike Lyons, president of the Greater Capital Region Building and Construction Trades Council.
“The Capital District Area Labor Federation is proud to stand with Senator Kristen Gillibrand to push for the passage of the PRO Act. Having the right to organize and join a union is one of the best ways to raise people out of poverty and ensure that everyone has the human rights of housing, food, medical care and education,” said Mark Emanatian, executive director, Capital District Area Labor Federation.
The PRO Act would protect workers’ rights by:
- Establishing solutions and implementing safeguards against violations of workers’ rights through penalizing employers who violate workers’ rights, supporting workers who suffer retaliation for exercising their rights, and authorizing a private right of action for violations of workers’ rights.
- Reinforcing workers’ rights to join together and negotiate for better working conditions by supporting workers’ rights to secondary boycotts, collecting “fair share” fees, modernizing the union election process, and facilitating initial collective bargaining agreements.
- Rehabilitating an unequal economy that was built to work against workers by addressing ambiguous wording that allows employers to misclassify their employees as supervisors and independent contractors and increasing transparency between workers and management.
The section-by-section summary of the PRO Act can be found HERE.
Full text of the legislation can be found HERE.