The Right to Organize is Fundamental to Workers’ Rights

Published on April 20, 2024

Workers’ rights to support unions and engage in collective bargaining are foundational for cultivating a fair and equitable workplace. However, the pervasive fear of retaliation often stifles employees from openly endorsing unions, compromising their ability to advocate for improved working conditions and fair treatment.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated such retaliatory practices by providing companies with the pretext in which they may terminate employees seeking to organize or obtain better working conditions. After complaining about working shoulder-to-shoulders during the height of the pandemic, employees at an Amazon warehouse in New York were fired. Unjustified layoffs have occurred at Cort Furniture Rental in New Jersey, the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant in Texas, and Advance Ohio in Cleveland. Even nurses haven’t been immune to this unfair use of pandemic-related excuses from companies. Nurses at Mission Hospital in North Carolina have accused the hospital’s owner of delaying a union election.

Trader Joe’s has been a major offender of retaliatory practices against employees. Company management has employed various tactics to discourage their crew members from organizing, a practice that undermines the essence of collective bargaining. One prominent strategy involves compelling employees to attend captive audience meetings, where they are subjected to anti-union rhetoric directly from the management. These meetings create an environment where employees are compelled to listen to perspectives against unionization, instilling fear and potentially dissuading them from organizing.

Recent incidents of retaliatory behavior have involved companies like Apple and Starbucks. In both cases, workers were allegedly fired for their direct involvement in union organizing efforts. Five employees were fired at an Apple store in Missouri, while seven were fired at a Starbucks in Buffalo. Like in the Trader Joe’s case, these unlawful terminations have the ability to deter employees from justly asserting their right to organize.

These incidents demonstrate the need for the Protect the Right to Organize Act. This piece of legislation seeks to address union busting and other retaliatory practices by granting the National Labor Relations Board the authority to impose financial penalties on companies that violate workers’ rights. Additionally, it provides that fired employees are reinstated while their case is reviewed and that workers are no longer required to attend anti-union meetings, such as those found at Trader Joe’s. This legislation not only serves the interests of employees but also aligns with principles of fairness, justice, and the overall well-being of the workforce. Employees should feel empowered to exercise their rights without hesitation, fostering a workplace culture that respects these rights, reinforces legal safeguards, encourages open communication, and promotes education on the benefits of collective bargaining.

by Enrique Mendez and Jesus Sanchez
PRO Act Source