AFL-CIO calls on Congress to prioritize passage of the PRO Act

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A generational opportunity and cornerstone of the AFL-CIO’s Workers First Agenda

Jefferson City –The PRO Act motivated union members this past election cycle to mobilize for a pro-worker trifecta in the U.S. House, Senate, and White House. Working families won a mandate and the AFL-CIO is calling on Congress to pass the PRO Act to increase worker power, rebuild our economy fairly and grow Missouri’s Labor Movement.

A sweeping Labor rights bill, the PRO Act was passed in the Democratic controlled U.S. House last year, but died in the Republican controlled Senate. Democrats reintroduced the bill last week, stressing the need to improve worker benefits and safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The PRO Act will strengthen workers’ ability to come together and demand a fair share of the wealth we create — boosting wages, securing better health care and rooting out discrimination,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

“The past year has laid bare the enormous injustices facing millions of America’s working people who keep our country afloat,” Trumka said. “We cannot allow those systemic failures to persist for another moment. Working people turned out to vote in record numbers because we urgently need structural change.”

The Missouri AFL-CIO is strongly calling on Congress to make the PRO Act a priority piece of legislation.

“Workers in America favor unions and tens of millions want to join one,” said Missouri AFL-CIO President Jake Hummel. “Research shows that nearly 60 million people would vote to join a union today if given the opportunity. The PRO Act eliminates barriers and empowers workers to organize for a strong voice on the job in a union.”

EMPOWERING WORKERS
The PRO Act is the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression, Hummel said, because it will:

• Empower workers to exercise their freedom to organize and bargain.

• Ensure that workers can reach a first contract quickly after a union is recognized.

• End employers’ practice of punishing striking workers by hiring permanent replacements. Speaking up for Labor rights is within every worker’s rights — and workers shouldn’t lose their jobs for it.

• Hold corporations accountable by strengthening the National Labor Relations Board and allowing it to levy fines against employers who retaliate against working people in support of the union or collective bargaining.

• Repeal “right-to-work” laws — divisive and racist laws created during the Jim Crow era — that lead to lower wages, fewer benefits, and more dangerous workplaces.

• Create pathways for workers to form unions, without fear, in newer industries like Big Tech.

60% OF AMERICANS APPROVE OF LABOR UNIONS
“Sixty percent of Americans approve of Labor unions, one of the highest marks in a half-century,” said Missouri AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Merri Berry.

“Inequality has skyrocketed because union membership has dwindled and policymakers have failed to pass pro-worker Labor laws. The PRO Act is a once in a generation Labor law bill that could change the trajectory for workers in Missouri.”

The PRO Act will make America’s economy work for working people, because when union membership is greater, wages are better.

Between 1948 and 1973, when New Deal-era laws expanded and enforced collective bargaining, hourly wages rose by more than 90 percent.

But over the next 40 years — from 1973 to 2013 — hourly wages rose by just over nine percent while productivity increased 74 percent.

As it is, workers are not getting paid a fair share of what they produce.

MORE THAN LABOR LAW REFORM
“The PRO Act is more than Labor law reform, it’s civil rights legislation,” said Missouri AFL-CIO Vice President Reginald Thomas.

“A union contract is the single best tool we have to close racial and gender wage gaps, and to ensure dignity and due process for workers, regardless of where we were born, who we are, or what industry we work in,” Thomas said.

“Expanding collective bargaining will increase protections for women, people of color, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community in areas where our laws are still falling short. We must pass the PRO Act.”


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