Teamsters mobilize to pass the PRO Act (Photo: International Brotherhood of Teamsters)
Democrats in the US Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which is chaired by Bernie Sanders, voted to advance the “Protect the Right to Organize” Act (PRO Act) on Wednesday, June 21. The PRO Act would bolster existing protections against union-busting experienced by workers trying to organize unions across the country, as well as close legal loopholes that favor the employer in terms of union organizing.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a national labor union, praised the progress on the legislation. AFSCME provided the example of local Massachusetts Council 93, which faced significant obstacles to contract negotiations even after successfully forming a union. “The boss convened mandatory all-staff meetings led by anti-union consultants who sought to convince the workers that the hospital had their best interests at heart. Pro-union flyers and pamphlets were destroyed. Management fired two workers for their union activism, which prompted Council 93 to file an unfair labor practice with the National Labor Relations Board.” The PRO Act is designed to eliminate these extremely common union-busting practices.
Captive audience meetings, for example, are experienced by workers trying to organize unions across the country, from Amazon to Starbucks. Employers force workers to attend these meetings in which they attempt to persuade their employees not to form a union. The PRO Act makes such meetings illegal.
“Democrats on the HELP Committee did the right thing by voting in favor of the PRO Act, which is desperately needed to empower working people and hold big business accountable for their attacks on the American middle class,” said International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien. “We now call on every member of the Senate to do the right thing: grow a spine, stand up to corporate greed and support this legislation.”