Oregon AFL-CIO President Graham Trainor responds to the introduction of the PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act in Congress today:
Today’s introduction of the PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act in the 117th Congress is a generational opportunity and the cornerstone of the American Labor Movement’s Workers First Agenda. Passed by the House in 2020, this critical legislation has been blocked by an anti-worker Senate majority, but working people fought tooth and nail to secure a pro-worker trifecta in the House, Senate, and the White House to ensure we can pass laws like the PRO Act that help working people.
Our nation’s labor laws are woefully ineffective and no longer allow for working people to be heard. Inequality has skyrocketed because union membership has dwindled and policymakers have failed, year after year, to pass laws to fix the problem. Our economy before the COVID-19 pandemic was fractured, with all the wealth resting in the hands of the few while far too many struggled to provide for their families. Since last March, it has only gotten worse, but our resolve has never been stronger. We have to make American’s economy work for working people and greater union membership is key to solving our nation’s woes.
It is time to build back better, with unions. The PRO Act’s positive economic impact cannot be overstated, as tens of millions of Americans say they would join a union if given the opportunity. The majority of Americans support unions and collective bargaining, the highest mark in nearly half a century. This is about making that opportunity easier for more workers, because we know that through a union we see a fair return on our hard work and a safe way to speak up on the job.
Passing the PRO Act is not just a way to make joining a union easier, it will put our country on a path toward greater equity. 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. Oregon’s unions applaud Senators Wyden and Merkley for their continued commitment to stand with working people in reforming our nation’s labor laws, as well as Congresswoman Bonamici, Congressmen DeFazio and Blumenauer for their support of the PRO Act last year on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Unfortunately, we continue to be disappointed by Congressman Schrader’s lack of support for the PRO Act, the only Democratic member of Oregon’s House delegation to oppose the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression when it came up for a vote in 2020.
We look forward to working with Oregon’s Congressional delegation to ensure the PRO Act becomes the law of the land this year. Working Americans have been demanding help and economic relief since long before the pandemic.
This bill is one of the most meaningful changes Congress can make to help our nation live up to its promise of freedom and equality.