Bill to Protect Right to Organize Introduced in Congress

February 5, 2021

A bill to restore workers’ right to organize unions and bargain collectively was re-introduced into Congress yesterday by Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) and a group of other Democratic congresspeople and senators. The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act was passed by Congress in 2020, but the Senate, then controlled by Republican Mitch McConnell, refused to consider it.

Call your representatives and senators today at (202) 224-3121 and demand that they co-sponsor this important piece of legislation!

Legislation to restore workers’ right to organize is long overdue. As UE policy notes, “Employers brazenly violate the law and victimize working people who dare to challenge their complete control by attempting to unionize. Almost 10 percent of workers who engage in organizing are fired by their employers ... [and] in 92 percent of union organizing campaigns, workers are subjected to the psychological warfare of captive audience meetings.”

The PRO Act would streamline union elections, ban captive audience meetings, increase penalties on employers for breaking the law, and make it harder for employers to delay union recognition through legal challenges. It would make it easier for workers to engage in collective action and solidarity by prohibiting employers from permanently replacing workers during an economic strike and removing all limitations on secondary boycotts. It would also ban so-called “right to work” laws, which weaken unions by encouraging free-riding.

Rank-and-file UE delegates endorsed the measure at UE’s 2019 convention in Pittsburgh.

UE allies in the North American Solidarity Project welcomed the bill’s introduction. Utility Workers Union of America President James Slevin, who addressed the 2019 UE convention, said “Over the past year the coronavirus pandemic called attention to many underlying issues we must face as a society, but it especially revealed the gaping power disparity between workers and employers. These problems existed long before this public health crisis and they’ll be around long after unless we pass sweeping reforms like those included in the PRO Act.”

“Economic injustice in our society has reached epic proportions, with disastrous results,” said Bonnie Castillo, executive director of National Nurses United, who addressed UE’s 2017 convention. “We know from history that the way to combat this is through the formation of unions, and it is high time we passed the PRO Act to respect the true value of labor in this country by making it easier for workers to have a voice at the table with their employers.”