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The US House Passes the PRO Act to Support Workers’ Right to Organize

The ability of working people to join together to collectively bargain for fair pay and working conditions is a fundamental right. When working people join a union, they have a voice on the job and the ability to collectively bargain for wages, benefits, and working conditions. Unions are crucial in fostering a vibrant middle class and reducing income inequality. When unions are strong, they set wage standards for entire industries and occupations, they make wages more equal within occupations, and they help close racial and gender wage gaps.

Most AFT Massachusetts members are public sector workers, and therefore subject to Massachusetts’ relatively strong state collective bargaining laws. But for millions of private sector workers, including some AFT Massachusetts members, outdated federal labor laws are often an obstacle standing in the way of the fundamental right to join together and negotiate for better wages, benefits and working conditions.

Now, the US House passed the bill March 2021 and the Senate is considering legislation – the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or PRO Act – that would empower America’s workers and make our economy work for working people – but it needs your support.

“Over the last year, we’ve seen clearly just how important unions are for working people. By joining together through our union, we can win safer working conditions, earn better pay and benefits, and advocate together for public policy changes that we would never get on our own,” said AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos. “We also know that when more workers have a strong union, it improves wages, benefits, and working conditions for all workers because even non-unionized employers must compete to attract qualified employees. But after years of attacks on union rights, millions of private-sector workers face significant obstacles when they want to join a union. The PRO Act would change that, allowing millions of workers to organize and bargain for their collective rights.”

The PRO Act would go a long way toward restoring workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively by streamlining the process for forming a union, ensuring that new unions are able to negotiate a first collective bargaining agreement, and holding employers accountable when they violate workers’ rights.

Specifically, the PRO Act would:

  • Establish penalties for predatory corporations 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;
  • Streamline the National Labor Relation Board’s procedures to secure worker freedoms and effectively prevent violations; and
  • Protect the integrity of union elections against coercive captive audience meetings.

Scholars at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that half of nonunion workers – more that 60 million Americans – would vote to join a union today if given the chance. It’s time to pass the PRO Act and help all workers secure the right to form a union without harassment and intimidation from management.

Here’s how you can help:

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