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Home » Recent News » House Passes PRO Act, landmark bill that would strengthen labor laws

House Passes PRO Act, landmark bill that would strengthen labor laws


The US House of Representatives on February 6 approved the most significant legislative effort to expand the rights of working people to organize since the Great Depression.

The Protecting the Right to Organize Act, known as the PRO Act, would amend some of the country’s decades-old labor laws to let workers quickly vote to form a union without employer interference, limit anti-worker tactics like employee misclassification, add penalties for companies that retaliate against workers who organize, and help workers secure a first contract. It would also weaken “right-to-work” laws in 27 states.

The House passed the bill with a vote of 224 to 194, mostly along party lines.

Prior to the vote, AFM International President Ray Hair sent a letter urging members of Congress to support the legislation and oppose any amendments offered during deliberations designed to weaken the bill.

Hair wrote:

The PRO Act strengthens the National Labor Relations Act by supporting the ability of working people have a voice on the job. The bill would update the National Labor Relations Act to allow workers to have a greater say in such important workplace issues as higher wages and retirement security. Once workers vote to form a union, the National Labor Relations Board could seek enforcement and relief in federal court allowing for swifter justice. In addition, the bill would prohibit employers from forcing workers to attend captive audience meetings designed to encourage workers from voting against the union. Companies and corporate officers would be confronted with stiff financial penalties for violating the law. 

The PRO act also establishes a mediation and arbitration process to prevent employers from avoiding the completion of a first contract. Historically, many employers attempt to stall first-contract negotiations in an effort to frustrate and in some cases stop the collective bargaining process, often after union organizers and negotiators have worked for years to finalize a first contract.

The bill also supports workers’ right to picket or withhold their labor in order to push for workplace changes. It also protects employees’ right to strike and prevents an employer from hiring permanent replacement workers and allows unrepresented workers to participate in collective action and class action lawsuits against unscrupulous employers.

Finally, HR 2474 eliminates state right to work laws which over the years have given more power to billionaires and special interest groups at the expense of lowering worker wages, eroding pensions and healthcare coverages in states where such laws have been enacted.

The bill now moves to the GOP-controlled Senate, which is unlikely to consider it. Republicans and business groups have forcefully opposed the PRO Act, claiming it would devastate businesses, eliminate privacy rights, and upset the national economy.

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