On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, I urge you to support H.R. 2474, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and oppose any efforts to weaken the bill through an amendment or a motion to recommit. This important and bipartisan legislation provides American workers the necessary protections to join together to collectively bargain for fair pay, better benefits, and safe working conditions without fear or intimidation.
Unions have played a critical role in lifting working families into the middle class, reducing income inequality, and closing the racial and gender wage gaps. Transportation labor has long fought for policies that grow our economy, modernize our infrastructure, and improve safety across all modes of transportation. And we do so while insisting that these policies include rights and protections for workers that promote middle-class wages and benefits and—critically—protect the right to unionize and collectively bargain. Unfortunately, far too many workers in the transportation sector and throughout the economy have been systematically denied these basic workplace rights by corporations that exploit loopholes in the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Whether it be misclassification of workers as independent contractors, or the recent “gig-economy” trend of companies claiming that they don’t employ workers at all, corporations have stacked the deck against working people, and the outdated NLRA is ill-equipped to handle this problem. The PRO Act seeks to remedy these basic problems.
Specifically, the PRO Act would impose appropriate and needed civil penalties on employers who illegally interfere with the rights of workers to join or form a union. The bill would establish a fair process for the negotiation of a first contract that would bring needed stability to workplaces newly represented by a union. H.R. 2474 will also prevent employers from misclassifying employees as independent contractors or supervisors simply to prevent workers from enjoying the benefits of collective bargaining. Taken together, these and other changes would modernize the NLRA by eliminating the roadblocks that today’s workers face to having a real voice on the job.
Public support for unions is the highest it has been in decades, and more and more people are recognizing the value of collective bargaining. It is past time to reform our labor laws to protect the most basic workplace right to form a union. For these reasons, we urge you to support H.R. 2474, the PRO Act. Invest in workers again and give them their voices back.
Larry I. Willis