House considers legislation aimed at strengthening protections for workers’ right to organize unions, bargain for wages, benefits.
A new bill currently being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives is stirring concerns and controversy. The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act (H.R. 2474) is designed to strengthen protections for workers’ right to organize a union and bargain for higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions. Read on for more information about the bill and what advocates and proponents say about it.
Specifically, the bill would:
· Establish penalties on 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 that 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.” This would repeal the “right-to-work” laws currently in effect in 27 states that allow workers to choose whether or not to pay union dues.
· Streamline the National Labor Relations Board’s procedures to secure worker freedoms and effectively prevent violations.
· Protect the integrity of union elections.
“Evidence and experience demonstrate that labor unions are one of the most powerful tools workers have to improve the standard of living for themselves and their families. However, there are currently no meaningful penalties for predatory corporations that use unlawful tactics to discourage workers from organizing a union,” said Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), who introduced the bill. “The PRO Act is a comprehensive proposal to ensure that workers have the right to stand together and negotiate for higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions.”
The bill’s opponents say the bill would harm both employers and workers. For instance, Representative Tim Walberg (R-MI), has called the bill “a sweeping labor union boss wish list and said that it would increase the “coercive power of big labor at the expense of workers and business owners.”
The bill has much support in the Democrat-controlled House. However, even with some backing in the Senate, this legislation is not likely to pass anytime soon. Nonetheless, the bill is worth watching; and the issue of unions isn’t likely to go away in the near future.