Labor-Friendly PRO Act Reintroduced in Congress

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. March 1, 2023

​The Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, a union-friendly piece of proposed legislation, was reintroduced in Congress on Feb. 28 to mixed reviews. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Democratic lawmakers and a lone Republican—Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.—reintroduced the legislation. House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., immediately voiced her opposition.

We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other outlets.

Sweeping Changes Proposed

The PRO Act, now named in honor of the late labor leader Richard Trumka, would give unions and employers the ability to override state-level "right-to-work" laws, enhance strike protections, and ban employers from holding "captive audience" meetings during which they inform employees about unions, among other changes.

The PRO Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020 and 2021 but never reached the floor for a vote in the Senate, where the filibuster requires at least 60 votes to pass most bills. Last year, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., and Senate Republicans declined to back the bill, which many business interests oppose. The bill's hurdles are likely steep this year in light of Republican control of the House of Representatives.

(Common Dreams)

Other Changes in the Bill

The PRO Act also would increase remedies for violations of workers' rights, enhance workers' right to support secondary boycotts, ensure that unions can collect "fair share" fees, modernize the union election process and facilitate initial collective bargaining agreements. In addition, the legislation would make it more difficult for employers to classify their employees as supervisors and independent contractors, who are not covered by the National Labor Relations Act, and would require greater transparency in labor-management relations.

(Office of Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.)

Union Welcomes Bill's Reintroduction

American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) National President Everett Kelley applauded the PRO Act's reintroduction. "With the re-introduction of the PRO Act, members of Congress face a choice," he wrote. "Legislators can stand with American workers whose legal rights are being trampled by private employers to the detriment of the nation. Or they can stand with the ultra-wealthy elites whose status depends on the continued oppression and exploitation of working-class Americans." 

President Joe Biden has committed to signing the PRO Act if Congress passes it. 

AFGE represents 750,000 federal and D.C. government workers.


Criticism of PRO Act

Foxx criticized the reintroduction of the PRO Act. In a statement, she called the legislation "a radical wish list of union boss priorities which undermines the rights of workers."

"To my Democrat colleagues and their union allies," she continued, "I have one simple message: The era of big labor in the committee is over, and putting the demands of union bosses above the interests of America's workers and job creators will stop."

(House Committee on Education and the Workforce)

SHRM's 2021 Statement on Legislation

In 2021, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) wrote a letter to members of Congress opposing the PRO Act. "SHRM strongly supports policies that protect and ensure employers and employees are equally represented at the bargaining table," SHRM wrote. But the Society went on to say the PRO Act "would create an imbalance in labor-market relations."

(SHRM Online)



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