The PRO Act
The San Francisco Living Wage Coalition stands in support of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or the PRO Act. The PRO Act restores fairness to the economy by strengthening the federal laws that protect workers’ right to join a union which in turn results in better pay and working conditions. In 1956, and up through the 70’s, a third of all American workers were union members, but that number has decreased sharply to only 10 percent of American workers today due to weak labor laws that allow companies to violate their workers’ right to organize a union.
One way the PRO Act restores the right to unionize is it authorizes monetary penalties on companies and executives who violate workers’ rights and ensures that wronged employees are immediately reinstated while their cases are being investigated. With the PRO Act, workers would not have to experience a period of unemployment as a result of trying to unionize because employer wrongdoing is swiftly investigated and penalized.
The bill also protects workers’ First Amendment rights by removing prohibitions to supporting boycotts, strikes, and other kinds of solidarity while also prohibiting companies from permanently replacing employees who go on strike. It also includes protection for workers whose immigration status may have previously prevented them from collecting remedies. Overall, the PRO Act leaves much needed room for all workers to stand up for themselves and their constitutional rights.
The PRO Act has already passed through the House of Representatives with bipartisan support, but its chances of passing through the Senate are extremely slim without filibuster reform due to the bill’s heavy opposition by Senate Republicans. Despite its slim chances of passing the Senate, parts of the PRO Act will likely still find its way into the next Senate budget reconciliation package. Furthermore, the conversation that the PRO Act has made room for in American politics will likely create a lasting impact on how voters and lawmakers think about unions and workers’ rights.
By Hannah Washburn