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.”
“In this time of economic uncertainty, it’s essential that we reaffirm our commitment to supporting American workers and their families,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “That means empowering workers with the fundamental right to organize and make their voices heard. As the son and husband of life-long union members, I’m especially proud to have co-sponsored and voted to pass this legislation in the House of Representstives, and I look forward to working alongside Senator Gillibrand to ensure it becomes law.”
“The obstacles we have overcome throughout the pandemic have only amplified the need for a strong labor force. Workers have carried our economy throughout this crisis and they deserve a living wage, quality healthcare, and workplace safety. It is long overdue we make these practices the standard for all employees as we address the income inequality that continues to plague our country. Large corporations and wealthy individuals have amassed more wealth throughout the past year while our labor force has barely been able to make ends meet,” said Assemblywoman Sarah Clark. “Workers are desperate for the type of security that comes with being in a union, as seen in Rochester. Here recently, workers at both Spot Coffee and Nani’s Kitchen formed unions hoping to improve wages and working conditions. As elected officials, we must do everything within our power to protect their right to unionize, and we must invest in workers. I am grateful to Senator Gillibrand for introducing this legislation and for her longstanding advocacy on this issue.”
“The PRO Act will help level the playing field for workers trying to Unionize, attempting to utilize their democratic and legal rights to vote for Union representation without fear of retaliation or intimidation and coercion from unethical employers,” said Dan Maloney, President of the Rochester Labor Council. “We thank Senator Gillibrand for her strong advocacy and support for this crucial legislation, it is greatly appreciated by all workers in the Rochester Labor Federation AFL-CIO.”
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.