Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer has introduced legislation that could, if passed, increase the power of union organizing in the workplace.
“I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to put more money into the pockets of hard-working Americans,” Schumer said of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act.
The New York Senator added that the bill would create a “foundation that provides livable wages to our families.”
As proposed, what is known as the Pro Act will amend the National Labor Relations Act by requiring workers to pay union membership dues even if they don’t want to.
In so doing, the act would invalidate long-standing laws in right-to-work states. Should workers opt not to pay those dues, they could be fired under what is called a “union security clause.”
The legislation will additionally alter collective bargaining procedures: if a union and employer are not able to come to terms during contract negotiations, the Pro Act will make it possible for a federal arbitrator to step in and determine the framework for continued negotiations.
In a statement, Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Association General Contractors, characterized the Pro Act as “anti-worker, anti-privacy, and anti-recovery.”
Sandherr added that the bill “threatens workers’ absolute right to a free, fair, and secret union ballot.”
Glenn Spender, senior vice president with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was similarly critical, describing the legislation as a “grab bag of harmful practices that would deprive millions of workers of their privacy and fundamentally alter our nation’s system of labor relations.”
But Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said the Pro Act will ultimately “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.”
The legislation is currently under review in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, as well as the House Committee on Education and Labor.
By Garry Boulard
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