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Jayapal & Murray Introduce The PRO Act to Protect and Expand Workers’ Rights

The legislation continues their advocacy on behalf of working people and addresses growing income inequality by protecting workers’ right to join a union and negotiate for higher wages, better benefits and safe conditions

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, joined U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as well as U.S. Representatives Bobby Scott (VA-03), Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Andy Levin (MI-09) and Brendan Boyle (PA-02) in introducing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act today. This comprehensive labor legislation protects workers’ right to stand together and bargain for fairer wages, better benefits and safer workplaces. 

“As someone who organized for working people and true economic justice before coming to Congress, I know that America still has a long ways to go to guarantee every worker a fair and safe workplace where they are treated with dignity and without discrimination,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “I am proud to co-lead the PRO Act as we not only reverse the damage done by Republicans’ anti-worker policies but as we also put power back into the hands of workers while expanding their right to organize and bargain for themselves, promoting a fair economy, and strengthening laws to protect all working people throughout our country.”

“After decades of wealthy corporations undermining our labor laws and four years of the Trump Administration’s attacks on workers’ rights, the PRO Act will restore workers’ ability to join together to demand their fair share of the economic growth they drive. This legislation is critical to supporting workers during this pandemic and to building back an economy that works for everyone—not just those at the very top,” said Senator Murray. “It’s time we pass the PRO Act and protect workers’ right to stand together and fight for better pay, quality health care, a safer workplace, and a secure retirement.”

As a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, Representative Jayapal helped pass the PRO Act through the House of Representatives last session. The legislation 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. Unions are critical to increasing wages and addressing growing income inequality – with studies showing that union members earn on average 19 percent more than those with similar education, occupation, and experience in a non-union workplace. 

The legislation also helps make the economy finally work for everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clearer than ever that our economy is benefitting the biggest corporations and wealthiest individuals—while failing workers, and in particular women and workers of color. While wages are stagnant for the bottom 50% of workers, 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. 

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.