U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the bicameral Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act to strengthen workers’ rights to organize and bargain for fairer wages, better benefits, and safer workplaces. The comprehensive labor legislation would bolster workers’ rights and address income inequality crisis that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Intensifying long-running trends, the coronavirus pandemic has benefitted the wealthiest individuals and many large corporations, while workers’ rights have been weakened and income inequality has worsened — particularly for women and workers of color.
“America has a severe income inequality crisis – working families are losing ground while the rich are getting richer every day – and expanding the number of workers in unions is a fundamental part of the solution,” said Senator Schumer. “The PRO Act helps workers to better organize and bargain for fair wages and benefits – and restores a measure of balance to our economy, which is now wildly tilted to favor big business and special interests’ profits. The union movement has been the most successful pathway to the middle class in all of American history and I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to put more money in the pockets of hard-working Americans, creating a foundation that provides livable wages to our families.”
“For years the divide between the country’s wealthiest individuals and working families has been left unchecked and the pandemic has 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.”
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 violation 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.