NELP Applauds Bipartisan House Passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act

Washington, DC—Following is a statement from Rebecca Dixon, executive director of the National Employment Law Project:

“We commend the U.S. House of Representatives for passing with bipartisan support the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, a landmark bill that lays out an urgent and far-reaching vision for building worker power by reforming federal labor laws.

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“The PRO Act would strengthen workers’ ability to join together to collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions; impose stronger penalties when employers interfere with workers’ rights; and crack down on employers who illegally mislabel their workers as independent contractors so as to deny them the opportunity to organize under federal law, among other things.

“In our democracy, working people have a fundamental right to form unions and collectively negotiate for fair pay and improved working conditions. But that fundamental right has been under attack for decades now—it’s been steadily chipped away by runaway corporate power and eroded by so-called ‘right to work’ laws and myriad other union-busting efforts.

“At the same time that unionization rates have plummeted, economic inequality has skyrocketed—and that’s no coincidence. It’s time for a reset. Strengthening workers’ right to organize and empowering us to act together to address our challenges in the workplace are key to addressing the bread-and-butter challenges facing working people and families today and recognizing the need for a rebalancing in the economy.

“Union jobs pay, on average, 16% higher wages than non-union jobs, because workers can bargain collectively for higher pay and transparent hiring and promotion policies. Organized workers are crucial in fostering a vibrant middle class and reducing income inequality. In the past few years, workers across the country have also reminded us how important their collective voice is in addressing societal problems ranging from sexual harassment to supports for children’s learning.

“Unions also help to reduce racial wealth gaps. Unionized Black workers, for example, receive significantly higher wages than their non-union counterparts (by 19%), and have markedly higher chances of getting an employer-sponsored retirement plan (by 15%) and employer-provided health insurance (by 13%). Had unionization rates stayed at the 1970s rate, some estimate that Black-white weekly wage gaps would be nearly 30% lower among women and 4% percent lower among men.

“The House’s passage of the PRO Act shows that at least some of our leaders in Washington still recognize the value of protecting workplace democracy for all of us.”

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