The Campaign for the PRO Act
From Politico; August 15,2022
After Congress cleared Democrats’ party-line package last week without a provision that would have reformed labor law to allow fines on employers, unions are prepping a last-ditch effort to convince the Senate to hold a vote on the Protecting the Right to Organize Act next month when lawmakers return from August recess.
No one expects them to pass it. But “our folks want to know where people stand, in a more formal way than whatever they'll tell them in a meeting or something back home,” Communication Workers of America’s Dan Mauer told Eleanor Friday. “They really want people to go on the record.”
CWA, SEIU, IUPAT, UAW and other unions are leading the charge as part of the Worker Power Coalition, Mauer said, which also includes other progressive organizations. It has been pushing for floor action on the bill since last year. This time, they’re up against a packed legislative agenda that includes issues like appropriations, policing, and antitrust.
The PRO Act is truly the bill that needs no introduction:Democrats’ holy grail of pro-union labor law reform that would make it far easier for workers to organize. If enacted, it would be the most significant overhaul of U.S. labor law since the 1940s.
Yet we don’t need to remind you that it’s been stalled in the upper chamber since the House passed it (again) in March 2021. It hasn’t even advanced out of committee.
The Senate version has just 47 cosponsors: 45 Democratic and two independent. One of the remaining three Democrats, Virginia’s Mark Warner, has said publicly he supports the legislation.
“We've got 47 senators who are signed on to the bill; we feel pretty confident about a couple of others,” Mauer said.
But the other two, Arizona’s Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, have stayed very quiet — a reflection of the purple state they represent and the subsequent line they must walk in appeasing members of both parties. Kelly is up for reelection in 2022 — and as the majority seeks to defend and build on their narrow-thin margin, no one wants to stick him between a rock and a hard place by putting him on the record.
As far as actual passage goes, organized labor has its sights set on electing more Democrats willing to eliminate the filibuster and pass the PRO Act with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes currently required.
“We're awfully close to having a [simple] majority — and we're awfully close to having a majority that doesn't think the filibuster should stand in the way of worker rights,” Mauer said. “Our figuring is that Tim Ryan and Mandela Barnes don’t plan on letting procedural high-jinks stand in the way of fighting workers.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office declined a request for comment.
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