Five Things To know About The PRO Act

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Bobby Scott introduced the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act
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This week U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Bobby Scott introduced the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act in Congress. EPI has long supported this sorely needed legislation that protects the freedom of workers to organize and join unions.

A recent Gallup poll showed that more than 70% of Americans approve of labor unions and many workers want to have them in their workplaces. Yet union membership is at an all-time low. Why is that?

The decline is due in part to the decades-long, systematic attack on our foundational labor laws that has created a hostile environment for workers seeking to organize. An EPI analysis found that employers were charged with violating federal law in 41.5% of union election campaigns, by firing, threatening, or otherwise retaliating against workers who dared to come together in their workplaces to bargain collectively. The penalties for violating current labor law are not sufficient to deter employers from infringing on workers’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

1. The PRO Act gives workers more control—Under the PRO Act, workers and the National Labor Relations Board, not employers, control the timing of union elections and employers can’t force employees to attend anti-union meetings.

2. The PRO Act imposes real penalties when employers break the law—Under the PRO Act, employers and corporate executives are penalized for illegally retaliating against workers trying to organize, and workers get monetary damages or other remedies if they are illegally fired or harmed; fired workers must also be reinstated while their cases are pending.

3. The PRO Act creates a roadmap to a first contract—Under the PRO Act, employers and workers have a set process to follow to negotiate a first union contract, and if they can’t reach an agreement they go to binding arbitration.

4. The PRO Act strengthens the right of workers to strike—Under the PRO Act, employers are prohibited from permanently replacing workers when they strike, and workers are no longer banned from engaging in so-called “secondary” activity, such as boycotts, seeking leverage in negotiations.

5. The PRO Act cracks down on worker misclassification—Under the PRO Act, workers can’t be wrongly deprived of their organizing and bargaining rights by being misclassified as supervisors or independent contractors.

The PRO Act is needed to restore the basic rights of workers to organize their workplaces and bargain collectively for better pay, benefits, and working conditions. EPI strongly urges its passage.

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