OPINION: Why do we need the PRO Act?

Executive Director, Americans for Tax Fairness Action Fund

As workers organize across the country for fair pay, benefits, and scheduling, greedy corporations are fighting back – union-busting while simultaneously putting the profits of their wealthy investors and CEOs ahead of working people.

Since December 2021, workers at 329 Starbucks stores in 39 states have voted to unionize. How has Starbucks responded? Instead of coming to the table to negotiate a union contract with fair wages, benefits, and scheduling, Starbucks has engaged in a ruthless union-busting campaign.

At a recent Senate hearing with Howard Schultz (the now-retired Starbucks’ CEO), Sen. Bernie Sanders said Starbucks is waging, “the most aggressive and illegal union-busting campaign in modern history.”

As documented in an Americans for Tax Fairness report, Starbucks made $4.1 billion in profits in 2021 while Howard Schultz saw his fortune balloon by nearly $1 billion during the pandemic. Meanwhile, Starbucks union-busting tactics include illegally firing union organizers, intimidating workers, and essentially “bribing” employees not to join the union.

We’ve been fighting back against corporate greed by advocating for a 15 percent corporate minimum tax, a windfall profits tax, a higher corporate tax rate, and more.

But how can we help workers fight back in the face of such reckless corporate greed? We could enact the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act!

The PRO Act would:

  • Penalize employers that interfere with their employees’ organizing efforts.
  • Make explicitly clear that employers cannot interfere with employee unionization voting procedures.
  • Enhance support for worker strikes and boycotts.
  • Repeal so-called “right-to-work” laws, which were created during the Jim Crow era to divide Black and white workers.

And there’s more. It’s not just Starbucks that’s union-busting. Amazon has illegally interfered in a union election and arranged for the illegal arrest of union organizers outside of an Amazon warehouse in New York. 

  • AMAZON is cheating its workers and taxpayers alike. Over the past four years, the behemoth made about $79 billion in profits and paid just $4 billion in taxes, for a measly five percent income tax rate.
  • CHIPOTLE has been accused by the NLRB of illegal retaliation when it shut down a store shortly after workers in Augusta, Maine, petitioned for a unionization vote.
  • APPLE stands accused by the NLRB of illegally spying on and threatening workers, which led workers in Atlanta to withdraw their request to hold a unionization election.
  • TRADER JOE’S closed its wine shop in New York City days before workers planned to announce a union election. The workers have accused the company of shutting the store to quash the union drive and retaliate against the workers.

Together, we’re fighting for an economy that works for working people, not just the wealthy and corporations.

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