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Labor Perspective On The PRO Act From United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard: It’s A ‘Pathway To Power ‘For Workers

Published Wednesday, May 15, 2019
by USW International President Leo Gerard/Via The Daily Kos
Labor Perspective On The PRO Act From United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard: It’s A ‘Pathway To Power ‘For Workers

Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of the co-founder of the Walt Disney Company, called out the family business’ current CEO last month for making what’s supposed to be the happiest place on earth pretty darn miserable for its Workers.  All of the company profits shouldn’t be going into executives’ pockets, she said in a Washington Post column. 

Workers whose labor makes those profits should not live in abject poverty - this is what Labor Leaders have said for two centuries, but Disney executives and bank executives and oil company executives don’t play well with others and they won’t give Workers more unless Workers force them to.  And the only way to do that is with collective bargaining - that is, the power of concerted action.

The United States recognized this back in the 1930s and gave Americans the right to organize Labor Unions under the National Labor Relations Act (NRLA).  The increase in Unionization encouraged by the law significantly diminished Income Inequality over the next 40 years and American Workers prospered as a result of having a voice in the workplace.

But Right Wing politicians, at the beck and call of CEOs, have chiseled large chunks out of Labor Organizing Rights, diminishing Unions and breeding vast economic disparities.

The decline in Union Density accounts for one-third of the rise in Income Inequality among men and one-fifth among women, Economic Policy Institute (EPI) Researchers found.

The solution, of course, is the same as it was in 1935 - in order to restore balance to an astronomically uneven economy, Congress must restore Workers’ power to organize.

Democrats recently took a first step toward accomplishing that goal when they introduced the Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act in the U.S. House and Senate, which would give back to Workers the power they need to demand their fair share of the profits created by the sweat of their brows.

It’s great that some billionaires and millionaires like Abigail Disney want CEOs to give their Workers raises, but Workers need the PRO Act, the power of collective bargaining, to make them do it.

Workers know this intrinsically and want Union Representation.

survey last year showed that nearly half of Non-Union Workers would join a Union if given the opportunity to do so.

But for that to happen, the law must change.

The PRO Act addresses several major problems with the current and gutted NLRA that render too many Workers powerless.

Its intent is to give Working People a fair shot when they try to form a Union and bargain for a better life for themselves and their families.

The defects of the current law can be clearly seen in the case of Kumho Tire.

In 2017, the Union I lead, the United Steelworkers (USW), filed a petition to represent Workers at the major international tire producer’s plant in Macon, Georgia.

The company ran a vicious $500,000 campaign against the Union, including daily, mandatory captive audience meetings, designed to coerce Workers into voting against Union Representation.

Kumho also fired the lead supporter of the Organizing Drive, Mario Smith, to intimidate his fellow Workers.

There are currently no penalties for employers who take such retaliatory actions.

The best a wrongly fired Worker can hope for is receiving back wages, but only once the case is settled, which can sometimes be years after the termination.

Meanwhile, corporations routinely forbid outside Union Organizers from entering the workplace, and Workers are restricted from speaking about the organizing campaign while on the clock.

Such limitations violate the intent of the NLRA, which was to encourage collective bargaining, not hinder it.

The USW filed more than 30 Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) Charges against Kumho Tire, including for the unjust termination of Mario Smith, but this process takes time, sometimes years - and time doesn’t pay unjustly fired Workers’ bills.

Under the PRO Act, rather than making fired Workers endure long periods of uncertainty while waiting for their ULP cases to be heard by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Unions would be able to immediately seek an injunction to reinstate Employees like Smith while their cases are pending.

The Bill would also authorize the NLRB to assess monetary penalties for each violation in which a company wrongfully terminates a Worker or causes serious economic harm.

To Continue Reading This Labor Perspective From USW International President Gerard, Go To: www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/5/14/1857566/-The-PRO-Act-Pathway-to-Power-for-Workers

Comments

A great article - lots of information here. Posted by Cindy Marlow on May 20, 2019 at 1:36 pm

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