Washington – AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) testified before the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions May 8, calling on lawmakers to strengthen the country’s badly outdated labor laws through the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.
Trumka offered a simple argument. Working people want to join unions, and it’s past time to remove the legal obstacles standing in our way.
Here are a few highlights from his testimony:
- “Our woefully outdated labor laws no longer serve as an effective means for working people to have our voices heard. The National Labor Relations Act’s stated purpose is to encourage collective bargaining, yet in the more than 80 years since its passage, every amendment to the law has made it harder for workers to form unions.”
- “Imagine if, when running for office, your opponent could force the electorate to listen to speeches urging them to vote against you. Imagine your opponent had the power to punish these voters if they supported you. Imagine that Congress refused to recognize your rightful election. And then imagine that once you were finally seated, you were denied the basic rights and responsibilities that come with the office.”
- “The PRO Act would do many important things. Chief among them: Provide more substantial relief for workers whose rights have been violated, ensure a process for reaching a first contract once a union is recognized and create a true deterrent, so employers think twice before violating the law.”
- “Something is happening in America. Workers are embracing collective action with a fervor I haven’t seen in a very long time. It is time for our laws to catch up. It is time to make the PRO Act the law of the land.”
INTEREST IN ORGANIZING AT FOUR DECADE HIGH
According to a nationally representative survey by MIT, American workers have not given up on unions. A nationally representative survey of the workforce by the MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research showed interest in joining unions to be at a four-decade high.
Forty-eight percent of 4,000 workers – nearly half of nonunionized workers surveyed – said they would join a union if given the opportunity to do so.
That marks a sharp increase from about one-third of the workforce expressing interest in joining a union in 1977 and 1995, the last two times this question was asked on national surveys.
The scale of the change indicates that 58 million American workers would want to join a union if they could, quadruple the number of current union members.
You can take action by urging your member of Congress to co-sponsor HR 2474, the PRO Act, by calling 800-505-2803.