After months of intense campaigning by state federations, labor councils and affiliates, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act or simply the PRO Act will likely see a vote on the U.S. House of Representatives floor this week. Essentially, it empowers working people to organize, improve their working conditions and hold corporations and employers accountable. After decades of taking it on the chin, or worse, workers now have a chance to interject a small degree of fairness into the system.
The PRO Act will support democracy and civility. It protects workers trying to organize and penalizes employers for interfering with that right. It will also modernized the National Labor Relations Act and strengthen its ability to deter offenders. We all remember how hard it was to hold CNN accountable for their blatant union breaking activities. This will help.
We can do this, but even if the PRO Act passes in the House, it faces a tough uphill climb to become law. The dangers we face in organized labor are serious. We need a win – a big win. The middle class is at stake. Hell, the whole country is at stake. Since Taft-Hartley was passed in 1947, an army of lobbyists with unlimited financial resources have time-and-again attacked and successfully eroded worker rights in America. They will stop at nothing to get their way. That’s not rhetoric. That’s not hyperbole. That’s not campaign hype. That’s just the truth. If we don’t find a way to fight back, unions will be reduced to no more than a memory and almost everyone will fall subservient to the wealth mongers in the top one percent. It’s been happening for too long.
We’ve discussed the numbers before. They are staggering. The middle class is disappearing and their wealth is observably moving to a narrowing few at the top. Not since the age of the Robber Barons at the end of the 19th Century has the United States faced such a disparity of wealth and undermining of our democracy. Our fundamental rights as American citizens are being stolen by an oligarchy of elites that will stop at nothing to increase their wealth and power. We've got to stop them.
All organized labor wants, all we’ve every wanted, is a fair share for what we bring to the table, but we have constantly faced an unrelenting barrage of money, power and disinformation. The result has been a constant erosion of worker power. We want business and companies to be successful. That’s our life blood, but their first, last and only concern cannot be reducing the cost of labor. As businesses get stronger, workers must get stronger too. It’s just about fairness.
All the PRO Act does is start to level the playing field. Mostly it prevents employers from undermining union organization efforts and gives us tools to fight back if they do. And, all workers benefit, even non-union members. When union wages are solid, non-union workers enjoy a dramatic increase in wages and benefits across the board – particularly in minority communities.
The PRO Act will probably come up for a vote this week in the House. So call (202) 224-3121 right now and ask for your Congressperson or Senator. When their staff answers the phone, tell them to support fairness. Tell them America is counting on them. Tell them the PRO Act is a great first step, and that you’ll be watching. Together we can do this!
Photo courtesy of inc.com.