Tell our Senators to support the PRO Act

December 17, 2021

I wanted to write today about the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or PRO Act, which recently passed the House, and is now moving to the Senate. There is more hope for the passage of this act now than there has been in some time. In a recent survey, nearly half of non-union workers say that they would join a union if they could, and the current approval rate of unions in the general population is 65%, higher than it has been since the early 2000s. However, just 12.1% of workers belonged to a union in 2020. The reason for this is that current labor law, even though it is supposed to protect the rights of workers to organize, actually makes organizing quite difficult.

The PRO Act would change the National Labor Relations Act to help workers’ ability to organize and negotiate for better pay, benefits, and working conditions. It would also promote greater racial economic justice, as it is proven that unions and collective bargaining help shrink the wage gap and bring more fairness to the workplace.

It would do this in several ways – it would establish civil penalties for employers who fire pro-union workers; it would greatly decrease the opportunities for employers to interfere with elections; it would eliminate the employer’s ability to contest the makeup of the bargaining unit; it would ban captive audience meetings with workers for the purpose of anti-union messaging; it would establish mediation and mandatory arbitration to ensure a first collective bargaining agreement is reached in a timely fashion; it would remove some impediments to workers’ ability to strike; it would require prompt disclosure of union-busting activity; and it would also get rid of so-called “right-to-work” laws some states have, including Texas.

If you were following the recent attempt of some Amazon workers to unionize in Alabama, then you know that Amazon used most of the tactics above to intimidate enough workers into voting no. The company’s tactics would be made illegal if the PRO act is passed (and in fact the courts have since ordered a new election). Even though the workers lost that vote, it brought national attention to these issues, and polls showed that more than 75% of the country supported their efforts to unionize. President Biden has called for passage of the PRO Act, and even spoke out in support of the workers rights to unionize, the first time a sitting President has done so since the Truman administration. The President has also just released a statement condemning the tactics of the Kellogg corporation (which is planning to hire permanent replacement workers for those on strike), adding that he believes in the collective bargaining process. This is the first time a sitting President has ever issued such a condemnation.

If you are angry over these anti-union attacks, and interested in helping workers all over the US have more power to organize, including our fellow musicians everywhere, please call our Senators – Ted Cruz and John Cornyn – and let them know that you want the PRO act passed.