Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) voted to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, a bold proposal that strengthens the right of workers to organize and collectively bargain. An amendment introduced by Congresswoman Hayes in the 116th Congress to protect new, voluntarily recognized unions from premature decertification campaigns was included in text of the bill in the 117th Congress.
Protections for union members and collective bargaining has never been more urgent. Over the past three decades, union membership has declined from its peak of more than 30 percent in the 1970s. Connecticut has seen consistent declines in union membership, with a 2.6% decrease in 2020 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only 7.4% of Connecticut’s workforce was unionized in 2020.
“A non-unionized workforce means lower wages, worsened working conditions, and reduced benefits. Workers are at higher risk of exploitation and without tools to advocate for themselves in the workplace,” said Congresswoman Hayes. “The risks posed to workers by COVID-19 has made the necessity of protected collective bargaining even more clear. I am pleased that my amendment ensuring new, voluntarily recognized unions are protected from retaliation was included in the text of the bill. I remain committed to protecting the right to organize and collectively bargain by voting to pass the PRO Act today.”
While essential workers risk their health to serve the public good, balance increased parental and familial obligations with work, and adapt to the mounting challenges presented by COVID-19, wages for the bottom 50% of workers have remained stagnant. Simultaneously, the top one percent of earners have seen their wages grow by 205 percent. This worsening income inequality has the deepest impact on women and workers of color, who disproportionately have jobs with lower wages and fewer, if any, benefits.
Unions are critical to increasing wages, addressing growing income inequality, and growing the middle class. Studies show that union members earn on average 19 percent more than those with similar education, occupation, and experience in a non-union workplace. The PRO Act would reverse years of attacks on unions and restore fairness to the economy by strengthening the federal laws that protect workers’ right to join a union and bargain for higher wages and better benefits.
The PRO Act would protect the right to organize and collectively bargain by:
- Bolstering remedies and punishing violations of workers’ rights through authorizing meaningful penalties for employers that violate workers’ rights, strengthening support for workers who suffer retaliation for exercising their rights, and authorizing a private right of action for violation of workers’ rights.
- Strengthening workers’ right to join together and negotiate for better working conditions by enhancing workers’ right to support secondary boycotts, ensuring workers can collect “fair share” fees, modernizing the union election process, and facilitating initial collective bargaining agreements.
- Restoring fairness to an economy rigged against workers by closing loopholes that allow employers to misclassify their employees as supervisors and independent contractors and increasing transparency in labor-management relations.
For a fact sheet on the PRO Act, click here.
For a section-by-section of the PRO Act, click here.
For the bill text of the PRO Act, click here.