Legislation will restore Americans’ right to organize into unions
Friday, February 7, 2020- Washington, D.C.– Today, Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Representative Katherine Clark (MA-5) joined the U.S. House of Representatives in passing H.R. 2474, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which will empower everyday Americans to negotiate for better wages, benefits and working conditions, and penalize companies that violate workers’ rights through exploitative practices.
“Unions are a driving force for equality in our economy and have been instrumental in narrowing the gender pay gap,” said Congresswoman Clark. “Unfortunately, anti-union practices have kept wages stagnant for years and forced many working Americans to take up multiple jobs just to make ends meet. The PRO Act cracks down on these policies fueling income inequality and reaffirms the process of collective bargaining for better wages, conditions, and benefits. I’m proud to support this return to a tradition that helped forge the middle class and is fostering an economy that works for everyone.”
“With income inequality at an all-time high here in Massachusetts and across the country, it’s really exciting to see our Congressional delegation’s support for the PRO Act,” said Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven A. Tolman. “The time is now for this commonsense, pro-worker labor reform. Organized labor has never asked for a leg up, all we ask is a level playing field – these updates to our nation’s labor laws are long overdue.”
The PRO Act will:
- Impose penalties on predatory companies that violate workers’ rights, and combat misclassification of workers as supervisors and independent contractors.
- Strengthen workers’ right to strike for basic workplace improvements, including higher wages and better working conditions.
- Create a mediation and arbitration process to ensure corporations and newly formed unions reach a first contract.
- Authorize unions and employers to negotiate agreements that allow unions to collect fair-share fees that cover the costs of representation.
- Protect the integrity of union elections against coercive captive audience meetings.
In 2019, the House passed a number of bills to support American workers including the Raise the Wage Act, which would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025, and the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would enhance remedies for gender-based pay discrimination and prohibit retaliation for wage disclosures to help close the gender pay gap. The PRO Act now moves to the U.S. Senate for consideration.
In 1956, roughly one in every three workers were union members. After decades of anti-union policies, just 10 percent of American workers are unionized today. Simultaneously, average incomes for the bottom 90 percent of households increased just 1.1 percent over the last 30 years, while average incomes for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans increased by more than 184 percent.