The PRO Act has been a hot topic as of recent and for good reason! This Act will be the most comprehensive worker empowerment legislation since the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935, should it be passed. It is crucial to us as union members because it offers a crucial, reinforced backbone that will not only hold employers accountable, but also give employees the confidence and security needed to organize effectively.
First and foremost, this legislation revises the definitions of employee, supervisor, and employer to broaden the scope of individuals covered by the fair labor standards thus allowing more people to enjoy the protections herein. It will also make it easier for sympathy, or secondary, strikes. Undoubtably, there is strength in numbers and these two components alone are opening doors for union strength to increase immensely.
Strength isn’t the only thing getting a face lift here. As the times change, legislation must follow. Specific to the PRO Act, it will give some attention to more modern forms of employee censorship and manipulation. With this act, employees will have the right to use electronic communication devices provided by the employer to engage in collective bargaining and union activities. It will also require employers to send out electronic notices about the employees’ rights to organization. No longer will employers be able to ignore the presence of unions in their trade nor will they be able to stop their workers from talking about it. They will also be required to share the contact information of their employees with labor organizations to ensure eligible employees are well aware of their right to vote for representation. The PRO Act would also direct the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to implement electronic voting systems that enable employees to vote in a representation election over the internet or the phone.
Finally, this increase in transparency has been paired up with a boost in accountability. Employers will not be able to determine the terms of a worker’s employment off their immigration status nor will they be able to engage in suspect agreements with their employees limiting their right to pursue lawsuits if malpractice takes place. Employers will not be able to sue unions conducting strikes against their company and should an employer be found guilty of interfering with a formal union election, the PRO Act will ensure the NLRB has the right to certify the union and require the employer to engage in collective bargaining.
Now what does this mean for you, a current, pre-PRO Act, union member? In one word, security. Here at Local 1 MD, VA and DC, we preach that security is one of the strongest characteristics of union membership. With the passing of the PRO Act, job and welfare security will continue to grow providing the confidence one deserves as a member of the work force. Employers will be held to a standard higher than ever with civil and monetary penalties at risk should they deviate from their expectations.
If you are being treated unfairly at your place of work, you can be sure that going on strike will not cost you your livelihood, but rather improve it. “Permanent replacements” will no longer loom over the heads of those fighting for fair treatment, anti-union campaigns will be hindered while elections are sped up, back pay will be given in full, and union membership discouragement will be officially an unfair labor practice.
Organization is already an excellent way to ensure one’s safety, security, and longevity are not compromised, but with the PRO Act, it rises to a whole new level. However, it is not a guaranteed luxury quite yet. The legislation is still making its way through the bureaucratic ranks, and it needs our help to get it through.
The most significant way to help this act is to contact your legislators, especially your senators, and vocalize support for passing the bill. Even increasing support and knowledge among current and perspective union members helps keep the conversation on workers’ rights progression. You cannot support what you do not understand.
Our continued solidarity will be put on display now more than ever. By coming together to show our support for the PRO Act, we can ensure the certainty of our careers and the prosperity of our families.
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