House Passes Bill to Strengthen Worker Rights

Feb 7, 2020

WASHINGTON – Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Chair David N. Cicilline (RI-01) voted last night in the House of Representatives to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (H.R. 2474), legislation he cosponsored to strengthen workers’ freedom to join a union and punish individuals and corporations who violate workers’ rights.

 

“The tremendous economic inequality in our country is due in large part to policies from anti-union politicians that have left workers without the freedom to organize and negotiate collectively for good wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions. I’m proud to pass this legislation to strengthen Rhode Island workers’ ability to join a union. Mitch McConnell should cast aside the corporate special interests that have prevented progress in the Senate and bring this bill up for a vote immediately.”

 

“We thank Congressman Cicilline for voting in support of the PRO act which will provide a level playing field when workers exercise their legal right to organize and join a union,” said George Nee, President of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO. “He understands that providing stricter enforcement is critical to a fair and just economy for all workers. Increased union membership is a major factor in closing the growing income inequality gap in our country.”

 

As corporations and the wealthy continue to amass economic and political power at an unprecedented rate, hardworking American families are struggling to keep pace with the rising costs of housing, childcare, education, and other basic necessities. Over the past four decades alone, the average income for working people has barely increased – 1.1 percent. In that same time, the average income for the wealthiest top one percent increased by more than 184 percent.

 

Meanwhile, many of the same corporations amassing this power are actively working to undermine their employees’ freedom to form a union. Even worse, current law does not require any civil penalties when employers violate their employees’ right to organize. That means that a parking ticket currently costs more than violating workers’ rights to join or form a union.

 

The Protecting the Right to Organize Act creates enforceable penalties for employers and executives that violate workers’ rights. The legislation also restores their freedom to organize by overruling much of the anti-labor “right to work” laws that corporations have advocated for at the state level. H.R. 2474 also provides workers with protections to form a union without being subjected to a formation and election process that is rigged by the corporation.

 

The bill passed the House with bipartisan support and now heads to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

 

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