By Steve Smith
The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act passed in the House this week with a 225-206 margin, sending this historic legislation to the US Senate. This bill is the most significant labor law reform legislation since 1935. All California Democrats in Congress voted YES, hearing the voices of workers who demand this critical reform is enacted. The legislation also got five Republican votes, making support for the PRO Act bipartisan.
What does the PRO Act do? The PRO Act strengthens organizing rights in four primary ways:
— Imposes real penalties when employers break the law
— Creates a roadmap to a first contract
— Strengthens strikes
— Cracks down on worker misclassification
This legislation would finally give labor law real teeth to go after employers when they illegally harass, intimidate and fire workers for organizing. Also of special importance to us in California, it establishes the “ABC” test to determine worker classification for the purposes of organizing, meaning the PRO Act would override Prop 22 to restore gig workers’ right to join a union.
What we’re saying: Statement from Art Pulaski: “The PRO Act is the most consequential pro-worker labor law reform in nearly 100 years. Passage in the House wouldn’t have been possible without the extraordinary efforts of the California Labor movement. We will relentlessly advocate and mobilize until this legislation is signed into law, restoring the right of all workers to stand together in a union.”
What’s next for the PRO Act? The bill now moves to the US Senate for consideration, likely later this year. Workers now have the opportunity to make the PRO Act a national issue about the future of our economy. Mobilization in support of the PRO Act will be critical in coming months. Working people are ready to put it all on the line to get this legislation passed and signed by President Biden. The President, for his part, has been incredibly supportive. He released a statement this week urging passage of the PRO Act.
It’s been almost 100 years since the last major reform of labor law. The PRO Act updates law for the 21st Century, restoring the freedom for workers to join a union and negotiate with their bosses for fair pay, decent benefits and safe working conditions. With support for unions at a 15-year high and a growing recognition that we can’t solve income inequality without strong unions, now is the time to pass the PRO Act to promote economic fairness, shrink racial and gender inequality and grow our economy with good jobs.