Senate must pass PRO Act for Workplace Justice and Equity
March 24, 2021
The House of Representatives recently passed the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act in a 225-206 vote. The PRO Act achieves one of the labor movement’s leading priorities by protecting the right of workers to organize. With the current labor system structured to favor big businesses and corporations over worker-led unions, the PRO Act levels the playing field by making union organizing less difficult. Catholic Social Justice teaches us that we must invest in the value of human labor, which helps maintain the fabric of our society. The PRO Act honors the ability of work to achieve growth and personal development by restoring workers’ rights to collectively bargain so they may advocate for higher wages, better benefits, and protections from discrimination. Congress must pass the PRO Act and update labor laws to make advances towards just and equitable workplaces.
According to a 2020 report, 65% of Americans approve of labor unions, and roughly 48% of non-union workers would vote for a union if given an opportunity. Despite increasing support, less than 15% of workers were supported by a union in 2020. Current labor laws make it difficult for workers to unionize and employers have discovered ways to penalize workers for organizing. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was passed by Congress in 1935, however every amendment to the law has made it harder for working people to form unions.
The PRO Act will amend the NLRA and related labor laws to extend vital protections to workers. The bill includes provisions such as: allowing injunctions against employers engaging in unfair labor practices, permitting workers to participate in collective litigation, ending the misclassification of employees, prohibiting the replacement and discrimination of workers who participate in strikes, expanding penalties for labor law violations, and more.
President Biden has shown strong support for the PRO Act and is a close ally of the labor movement. In a March 9 statement, Biden acknowledged the various ways employers prevent workers from organizing through “anti-union attacks.” President Biden also displayed support of Amazon workers’ ongoing union drive in Alabama, citing unions as “vitally important” to addressing racial and economic disparities in the U.S.
The PRO Act is needed to expand the protections once offered by the NLRA. It is a historic proposal that restores the dignity of workers and reinforces and praises their value. The Senate must follow the example set by the House of Representatives and pass the PRO Act.