WASHINGTON, DC – Late yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act – comprehensive legislation to strengthen protections for workers’ right to organize a union and bargain for higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions. Following this passage, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) urged Mitch McConnell to take up this bill in the Senate. Brown joined his House and Senate colleagues in introducing this bill in May of 2019.
The legislation includes a Brown provision to protect workers’ rights to collectively bargain even if they have been misclassified by their employer. Brown wants to ensure that workers and supervisors are not inappropriately denied collective bargaining rights due to a misclassification. Employers often misclassify workers as supervisors and independent contractors, robbing them of their collective bargaining rights. Allowing more workers to collectively bargain reduces worker marginalization, restores the value of work, and grows the middle class. This provision is part of Brown’s broader efforts to restore the value of work so Ohioans’ work will pay off once again.
“In the face of increasingly aggressive employer attempts to prevent workers from forming unions, we should update worker protections to reinforce the rights of all workers to band together and fight for better pay and safe working conditions,” said Senator Brown. “We cannot address inequality in this country unless workers get more power in the workplace, and this bill would help them do that. It’s time for Senate Republican leadership to allow this legislation to come to the floor for a vote.”
The bill was introduced in the House by Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), and companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Brown, Patty Murray (D-WA). The PRO Act has 218 House cosponsors, and 40 Senate cosponsors.
As wage inequality continues to leave workers and middle-class families behind, this legislation would empower millions of Americans to stand together and ensure hardworking people are getting their fair share of economic growth. A recent study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research found that unions have consistently provided workers with a 10- to 20- percent wage boost over their non-union counterparts over the past eight decades.
Specifically, the PRO Act would:
- Establish penalties on predatory corporations that violate workers’ rights, and combat misclassification of workers as supervisors and independent contractors;
- Strengthen workers’ right to strike for basic workplace improvements, including higher wages and better working conditions;
- Create a mandatory mediation and arbitration process to ensure corporations and newly formed unions reach a first contract;
- Authorize unions and employers to negotiate agreements that allow unions to collect fair-share fees that cover the costs of representation;
- Streamline the National Labor Relation Board’s (NLRB) procedures to secure worker freedoms and effectively prevent violations; and
- Protect the integrity of union elections against coercive captive audience meetings.
Specifically, Brown’s provision to protect workers’ collective bargaining rights would:
- Clarify the definition of ‘supervisor’ to ensure workers are not falsely misclassified in order to deny collective bargaining rights; and
- Clarify that all workers are presumed to be employees, even when classified by employers as independent contractors, unless they are truly free from the employer’s control.
To read the fact sheet of the PRO Act, click here.
To read the section by section on the PRO Act, click here.
To read the full text of the PRO Act, click here.