02.05.21

U.S. Senator Baldwin Introduces Legislation to Protect Workers’ Right to Organize and Make our Economy Work for Everyone

Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act will help build a fairer, more inclusive economy 

Legislation addresses growing income inequality by strengthening federal laws that protect workers’ right to join a union and negotiate for higher wages and better benefits

WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), joined Democrats in the Senate and House to introduce the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, comprehensive labor legislation to protect workers’ right to stand together and bargain for fairer wages, better benefits, and safer workplaces.

“In Wisconsin and across the country we have seen powerful, corporate special interests, and the politicians that they fund, attack workers’ rights and undermine our labor laws. The result has been a shrinking middle class, rising income inequality, and more economic insecurity for working families,” said Senator Baldwin. “This legislation takes bold action to respect and reward the hard work of the men and women in labor by protecting and strengthening workers’ rights. The PRO Act takes a stand for workers so they can stand together for fair pay, a safe workplace, quality health care, and the dignity of a secure retirement they worked hard to earn.”

The pandemic has made it clearer than ever that our economy is benefitting the biggest corporations and wealthiest individuals, while failing workers, and in particular women and workers of color. While wages are stagnant for the bottom 50 percent of workers, the top one percent of earners have seen their wages grow by 205 percent. This worsening income inequality has the deepest impact on women and workers of color, who disproportionately have jobs with lower wages and fewer, if any, benefits.

Unions are critical to increasing wages and addressing growing income inequality—with studies showing that union members earn on average 19 percent more than those with similar education, occupation, and experience in a non-union workplace. The PRO Act would reverse years of attacks on unions and restore fairness to the economy by strengthening the federal laws that protect workers’ right to join a union and bargain for higher wages and better benefits. 

The legislation has the support of Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor.  

The PRO Act would protect the right to organize and collectively bargain by:

  • Bolstering remedies and punishing violations of workers’ rights through authorizing meaningful penalties for employers that violate workers’ rights, strengthening support for workers who suffer retaliation for exercising their rights, and authorizing a private right of action for violation of workers’ rights.
  • Strengthening workers’ right to join together and negotiate for better working conditions by enhancing workers’ right to support secondary boycotts, ensuring workers can collect “fair share” fees, modernizing the union election process, and facilitating initial collective bargaining agreements.
  • Restoring fairness to an economy rigged against workers by closing loopholes that allow employers to misclassify their employees as supervisors and independent contractors and increasing transparency in labor-management relations.

In addition to Senators Baldwin, Schumer, and Murray, the PRO Act is co-sponsored by Senators Blumenthal (D-CT), Duckworth (D-IL), Booker (D-NJ), Warren (D-MA), Wyden (D-OR), Gillibrand (D-NY), Cantwell (D-WA), Murphy (D-CT), Hassan (D-NH), Casey (D-PA), Cardin (D-MD), Merkley (D-OR), Whitehouse (D-RI), Reed (D-RI), Durbin (D-IL), Kaine (D-VA), Klobuchar (D-MN), Brown (D-OH), Luján (D-NM), Menendez (D-NJ), Sanders (I-VT), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Van Hollen (D-MD), Markey (D-MA), Heinrich (D-NM), Hirono (D-HI), Schatz (D-HI), Smith (D-MN), Leahy (D-VT), Carper (D-DE), Bennet (D-CO), Stabenow (D-MI), Coons (D-NE), Rosen (D-NV), Tester (D-MT), Peters (D-MI), Shaheen (D-NH) and Padilla (D-CA).

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.