WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) alongside House and Senate colleagues introduced the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act of 2023, a comprehensive proposal to protect the rights of workers to come together and bargain for higher wages, better benefits, and safer workplaces.
While large corporations and wealthy individuals continue to capture the rewards of a growing economy, working families and underserved Americans are left behind. From 1979 to 2020, annual wages for the bottom 90 percent of households increased just 26 percent, while average incomes for the wealthiest one percent increased more than 160 percent.
“As a fundamental aspect to the continuous progress of our hardworking middle class, it is imperative that each working individual be empowered to exercise their right to stand together, organize, and be a part of a union,” said Menendez. “The introduction of this legislation solidifies the transparency, freedom, and fairness all workers deserve in the workplace, while also holding companies and executives accountable that violate their rights.”
“Our nation’s economic success is directly linked to the success of working people,” said Booker. “A union job is the pathway for millions of American families to the middle class, prosperity, and opportunity, but for too long, workers’ rights have been under attack. I’m proud to work with President Biden and Democrats in Congress to fight alongside union workers, and am proud to once again join my colleagues in introducing this legislation that would help workers unionize and negotiate fair wages, safe workplaces, and good benefits. We must work towards rebuilding a fair and inclusive economy that works for everyone.”
“The PRO Act is how we level the playing field. It is how we stop the intimidation, the lies. This is how we let workers, not wealthy corporations, decide for themselves if they want the power of a union,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler.
The PRO Act protects the basic right to join a union and:
- Holds employers accountable for violating workers’ rights with meaningful penalties, facilitating initial collective bargaining agreements, and closing loopholes that allow employers to misclassify their employees as supervisors and independent contractors.
- Empowers workers to exercise their right to organize by strengthening support for those who suffer retaliation for exercising their rights, protecting workers’ right to support secondary boycotts, ensuring workers can collect “fair share” fees, and authorizing a private right of action for violation of workers’ rights.
- Secures free, fair, and safe union elections by preventing employers from interfering in union elections, prohibiting captive audience meetings, and requiring employers to be transparent with their workers.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, Black workers in unions see a wage boost of 13.1% compared to comparable non-union workers, and Latino workers see an 18.8% union wage increase. Unions disproportionately help Black and Latino workers realize wage gains they otherwise would potentially not get in non-union jobs.
According to a 2022 Gallup poll, it has also been found that 71 percent of Americans approve of labor unions – the highest that Gallup has recorded since 1965. Despite growing support for unions, decades of anti-union attacks have made it harder for workers to organize and union membership has fallen to a new low of 10.1 percent in 2022. The PRO Act restores fairness to the economy by strengthening federal laws that protect workers’ rights to join a union and bargain for higher pay, better benefits, and safer workplaces.