Doyle Votes to Protect Workers’ Right to Organize
This pro-worker legislation would help rebuild the American middle class by protecting the basic right to join a union, hold employers accountable for violating workers’ rights, and conduct free, fair, and safe votes to establish unions.
“Since 1979, the average income for the bottom 90 percent of households increased just 1.1 percent, while average incomes for the wealthiest 1 percent increased more than 184 percent,” Congressman Doyle observed today. “This is no coincidence. In fact, the lack of wage growth for American workers is closely linked to the decline in union membership. That is why I joined my colleagues to pass the PRO Act -- to restore American workers’ rights and help rebuild our economy based on a strong and growing middle class.”
The Protecting the Right to Organize Act would make it easier for workers to decide for themselves whether to form a union. Enactment of this legislation would be the most significant strengthening of workers’ collective bargaining rights in more than 80 years. The PRO Act would:
- Provide new tools to protect workers from anti-union intimidation and retaliation;
- Establish stronger safeguards to ensure workers can hold free and fair union elections; and
- Introduce meaningful penalties for companies ⎯ and executives ⎯ that violate workers’ collective bargaining rights.
Union membership in the United States has been steadily decreasing since the late 1950s. Union membership, while historically common in manufacturing industries, has not been growing in other sectors of the economy - while manufacturing employment in the United States has declined dramatically. The decline in union membership has accelerated since the 1970s, when employers began engaging more frequently in a variety of unfair labor practices like firing union activists during organizing campaigns.
The National Labor Relations Review Act was intended to promote the practice of collective bargaining when it was passed in 1935. But various changes to law, particularly the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, weakened labor’s bargaining power and allowed more interference in union elections by employers.
Unions help all workers, including those who don’t belong to a union, by setting standards for pay, benefits, and rights that non-union employers often adopt. They have been crucial in enacting laws to protect all workers’ safety and health, overtime pay, and family and medical leave - and in the enforcement of such rights. The PRO Act helps restore the bargaining power of workers by, for example, establishing a process for reaching a first bargaining agreement, preventing employers from taking unilateral action against employees, and prohibiting employers from replacing strikers.
“After decades of anti-worker attacks and assaults on unions, restoring workers’ rights will help rebuild the middle class and improve the quality of life for them and their families,” Congressman Doyle said after the vote. “I will never stop fighting to protect the rights of working men and women - and ensure that they can continue to live decent lives and strengthen our communities.”
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