House passes the PRO Act, most significant upgrade to U.S. labor law in 80 years
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01) – a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 351 – voted yes today to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, in which he is an original co-sponsor. The PRO Act, which was introduced by Chairman Bobby Scott (VA-03) of the House Committee on Education and Labor, is the most significant upgrade to U.S. labor law in 80 years and is a direct response to the struggle that many hardworking families are facing. The PRO Act passed the House with bipartisan support.
“I know how important it is to give workers a voice and protect them from unfair labor practices because I lived it,” said Congressman Norcross, a former business agent for the IBEW Local 351 and President of the Southern New Jersey AFL-CIO. “I fought for New Jerseyans at the negotiating table for decades. Workers win when they can band together and collectively bargain for safer workplaces, higher wages and better benefits. Today, my colleagues and I took a major leap forward in restoring fairness to an economy that’s rigged against workers. I urge the Senate to act swiftly and pass the PRO Act to level the playing field for American workers and their families.”
Research consistently shows that workers who are represented by unions earn higher pay, have safer workplaces and are more likely to have employer-sponsored health care and retirement plans. But, after decades of attacks on workers’ right to organize funded by wealthy special interests, just ten percent of American workers are union members, the lowest rate on record.
The decline in union membership has coincided with a rise in income inequality. Over the past three decades, as union density declined from its peak of more than 30 percent in the 1970s, the average income for the bottom 90 percent of families stayed the same, while average incomes for the wealthiest one percent nearly doubled.
In response to the continued anti-labor attacks funded by wealthy special interests, the PRO Act makes comprehensive and necessary changes to protect and strengthen workers’ rights.
Specifically, the PRO Act:
-Establishes penalties on predatory corporations that violate workers’ rights, and combat misclassification of workers as supervisors and independent contractors.
-Strengthens workers’ right to strike for basic workplace improvements, including higher wages and better working conditions.
-Creates a mandatory mediation and arbitration process to ensure corporations and newly formed unions reach a first contract.
-Authorizes unions and employers to negotiate agreements that allow unions to collect fair-share fees that cover the costs of representation.
-Streamlines the National Labor Relation Board’s (NLRB) procedures to secure worker freedoms and effectively prevent violations.
-Protects the integrity of union elections against coercive captive audience meetings.