The PRO Act would weaken anti-union ‘right to work’ laws and put union-busting employers under harsher scrutiny. Will the US Senate finally put it up for a vote?

by Michael Sainato, The Real News

The Worker Power Coalition, composed of over 40 labor unions and progressive organizations representing 24 million workers in the US, has launched a campaign ahead of the 2022 midterm elections to pressure Democratic Senate leaders and US Senators from both parties to vote on the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. If passed, the PRO Act would institute the largest overhaul of US labor law since the mid-20th century.

Labor Movement

The legislation would ban captive audience meetings held by employers to deter union organizing, increase penalties on employers for violating labor laws, and mandate prompt disclosure of contracts between employers and anti-union consultants. It would also establish mediation and arbitration processes to streamline the path for new unions to secure a first contract. (Under existing conditions, it is common practice for employers to delay and draw out the bargaining process with relative impunity. As Bloomberg Law reported earlier this year, “the mean number of days it takes newly unionized employers and their newly organized workers to ratify a first contract has grown to 465 days.”) Current labor laws in the US are based on the National Labor Relations Act, which was passed in 1935 and has long been viewed by labor experts as broken, outdated, and insufficient when it comes to protecting workers’ rights to organize unions today.

The legislation passed in the House of Representatives in March 2021 with five Republicans and all but one Democrat, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), voting in support, but it has yet to receive a vote in the US Senate.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-VA) has signaled his support for the PRO Act, while Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly of Arizona and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) have refused to support the legislation.

Organizers and worker delegations affiliated with the Worker Power Coalition have been meeting with Senate Democrats in swing states such as Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Nevada, and are holding events to pressure Senate Republicans in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Florida to show their support for workers by backing the legislation.

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