The House of Representatives has passed the PRO Act, a bill that would strengthen workers’ right to unionize.
PRO Act Could Be “Game Changer”
The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) was passed on March 9, 2021, by a 225-206 vote, with five Republicans joining Democrats to vote for it. However, the PRO Act is not likely to advance in the Senate, given the lack of Republican support for it.
Union leaders say that the PRO Act would finally begin to level a playing field that they claim is currently in favor of management and big business by making union organizing drives and elections unreasonably difficult.
“The PRO Act would protect and empower workers to exercise our freedom to organize a bargain,” said Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO. “It’s a game changer. If you really want to correct inequality in this country — wages and wealth inequality, opportunity and inequality of power — passing the PRO Act is absolutely essential to doing that.”
The PRO Act was already passed by the Democratic-controlled House when it was introduced in 2020, but it was never taken up by the then-Republican majority Senate. While the Democrats now narrowly control the Senate, they do not have enough votes to overcome a filibuster, which means the bill is likely dead once again. President Biden backs the legislation.
“Nearly sixty million Americans would join a union if they get a chance, but too many employers and states prevent them from doing so through anti-union attacks,” said Biden. “They know that without unions, they can run the table on workers — union and non-union alike.”
Big Business Groups Opposed to the Bill
Big business groups are opposed to the measure. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says the PRO Act would “undermine worker rights, ensnare employers in unrelated labor disputes, disrupt the economy, and force individual Americans to pay union dues regardless of their wishes.”
Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation has called it “the worst bill in Congress.”
The PRO Act has five provisions:
- Right-to-work laws in more than two dozen states allow workers in union-represented workplaces to opt out of the union, without paying union dues, while still being covered under the wage and benefits provisions of the union contract. The PRO Act would allow unions to override these laws and collect dues from workers who opt out in order to cover the cost of collective bargaining and contract administration.
- The PRO Act would prohibit employee interference and influence in union elections. Mandatory company-sponsored meetings are frequently used to lobby against a union organizing drive, and they would now be illegal. Employees would also be allowed to cast ballots in union organizing elections at locations away from company property.
- While successful union organizing drives often fail to result in an agreement on a first contract between labor and management, the PRO Act would allow newly certified unions to seek arbitration and mediation to settle negotiation impasses.
- The PRO Act would prevent employers from using employees’ immigration status against them when determining the terms of their employment.
- The PRO Act would establish financial penalties for companies and executives who violate the rights of workers, with corporate directors and other company officers also potentially held liable.
Lawyers Fighting for the Rights of Workers
Whether or not the Senate votes to ratify the PRO Act, workers still need an advocate to fight for their rights if they get hurt on the job. Unfortunately, injured workers often face obstacles from employers when they try to obtain the benefits to which they are legally entitled. To help overcome these challenges, do what so many other employees have done before you and retain the services of the Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC.
With over $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the premier Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury law firms in Illinois. For more than four decades, we have been defending the rights of workers in practically every industry, including members of virtually every labor union. Our Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers have the experience, the determination, the resources, and the reputation of success you need to get you and your family the justice you deserve.
Contact GWC today to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation with one of our dedicated injury attorneys. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.