Bernie Sanders Reintroduces PRO Act as Labor Activity Is on the Rise

On Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Representatives Bobby Scott (D-Virginia) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania) put forth a sweeping pro-labor invoice that has been hailed as some of the essential items of laws for the labor motion within the fashionable period of union busting.

With the support of nearly 200 cosponsors within the Home and Senate, the lawmakers reintroduced the Richard L. Trumka Defending the Proper to Arrange (PRO) Act, named for the previous AFL-CIO president who died in 2021.

Ever since the bill was first introduced in Congress in 2019, passing the PRO Act has grow to be a rallying cry of main unions, the left and labor advocates, who’ve lengthy maintained that the U.S.’s simply exploitable, pro-business labor laws have eroded staff’ proper to unionize and collectively cut price. The laws would massively strengthen the power of staff to unionize within the U.S. by eradicating a lot of hurdles and loopholes that make it exhausting for staff to unionize.

Sanders, chair of the Senate Well being, Training, Labor and Pensions Committee, stated that the invoice is critical to struggle the growing consolidation of energy among the many rich and companies.

“We have to maintain CEOs accountable for flagrantly violating labor legal guidelines, illegally firing pro-union staff, and shutting down pro-union retailers,” Sanders said in an announcement. “If we’re going to reverse the 40-year decline of the center class, cut back the widening hole between the billionaire class and everybody else, and tackle the unprecedented degree of company greed in America, we now have obtained to rebuild the commerce union motion. That’s what the PRO Act is all about.”

The invoice would, amongst many different issues, override anti-union “right-to-work legal guidelines”; increase fines and penalties for unlawful actions, like firing a employee for being pro-union; and increase the variety of actions which are thought-about unlawful, like “captive viewers” conferences the place employers feed staff anti-union propaganda or delaying recognition of a union. It will additionally stipulate that “gig” contract staff like Uber and Lyft drivers are staff, permitting them to entry the identical labor and organizing rights as different staff.

Scott, the highest Democrat on the Home Committee on Training and the Workforce, highlighted that union exercise is on the rise, no due to the U.S.’s weak labor protections. “As a historic variety of Individuals put their assist behind labor unions, Congress has an pressing accountability to make sure that staff can be part of a union and negotiate for larger pay, higher advantages, and safer workplaces,” he stated. “Passing the PRO Act is essentially the most essential step we are able to take this Congress to realize that purpose.”

There at present seems to be a big urge for food for organized labor exercise within the U.S. Lately, there was a flurry of union exercise within the service trade at corporations like Starbucks, inside establishments of upper schooling, and throughout the well being care sector.

Final 12 months particularly noticed a considerable amount of labor actions, with union petition filings rising by 53 p.c between fiscal years 2021 and 2022, in keeping with the Nationwide Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Strikes are additionally on the rise: a recent report by Cornell College researchers discovered that the variety of work stoppages rose by 52 p.c in 2022. On the identical time, public approval of unions hit an almost 60-year excessive final 12 months, Gallup polling discovered, giving hope to unionists throughout the nation.

Current information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) put the latest development of the union motion in sharp perspective, nevertheless. Although the sheer variety of U.S. staff in unions grew in 2022, the proportion of staff in unions shrank to merely 10.1 p.c, the bottom price on file. This stands in distinction to historical numbers of union membership; within the Nineteen Forties and 50s, around 30 percent of the workforce was in a union.

Labor advocates have pointed to all the above statistics as evidence that labor legal guidelines are holding back the potential for union membership within the U.S.

“The proof is evident: Staff wish to be part of unions, however many are robbed of the chance as a result of the limitations are too excessive,” said Economic Policy Institute President Heidi Shierholz in an announcement celebrating the reintroduction of the PRO Act. “The share of U.S. staff represented by a union hit an all-time low in 2022, regardless of sturdy public assist for unions and an infinite improve in union election petitions earlier than the Nationwide Labor Relations Board. The decline is partly as a result of the decades-long, systematic assault on our foundational labor legal guidelines has created a hostile setting for staff looking for to arrange.”

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