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Congress’s ‘Most Ambitious Attempt To Strengthen Unions In Years’ Is Set For A House Vote This Week - The Protecting The Right To Organize Act

Published Sunday, February 2, 2020
by Eli Rosenberg/The Washington Post
Congress’s ‘Most Ambitious Attempt To Strengthen Unions In Years’ Is Set For A House Vote This Week - The Protecting The Right To Organize Act

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - One of the most significant bills to strengthen Workers’ abilities to organize in the past 80 years is headed to a vote this week in the House, where it will probably pass amid a newfound momentum for progressive legislation.

The Protecting the Right to Organize Act would amend some of the country’s decades-old Labor Laws to give Workers more power during disputes at work, add penalties for companies that violate Labor Law, and grant potentially hundreds of thousands of Workers Collective Bargaining Rights they don’t currently have.

It would also weaken Right-To-Work (for less) Laws in 27 states that allow Employees to forgo participating in and paying dues to unions.

Although the bill is unlikely to be taken up by the Senate, it comes amid a growing conversation about Workers’ Rights.

Strikes have surged to a level not seen since the 1980s and 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates have rushed to picket lines to show their support for Working People.

The bill comes at a time when California is grappling with a new law that gives more rights to contracted Workers.

“This is the ‘most ambitious’ Labor Law reform to get to the floor of the house ‘in a very long time,’” said Sharon Block, who serves as the Executive Director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School and who is a former member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). “I think it’s ‘really important.’”

The bill addresses what Democrats, Union Organizers and Labor Advocates say are fundamental weaknesses with the U.S. Labor Law.

Republicans have argued strongly against it, saying that it will erode Worker privacy and strengthen Union Power.

The bill would create penalties for employers that violate Federal Labor Law by retaliating against Workers who are trying to Unionize.

Currently, no such penalties exist.

Economists and Labor Law experts say that this means companies have few disincentives for breaking the law.

About 40% of companies whose Workers vote to Unionize are charged With Violating Federal Law during Union Campaigns, according to Federal Data obtained by the Left-Leaning Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

But this bill would give the NLRB, which enforces Federal Labor Law, new power to force companies to pay up to $50,000 per violation.

It would also award Workers’ compensation for the damages they experience when they are retaliated against, not just back pay, as they are currently entitled to.

The bill would also weigh in on the debate of who gets to be classified as a contractor or an Employee.

Studies over the past 30 years have estimated that hundreds of thousands to millions of Workers are misclassified as contractors when they should be Employees, an issue that has become the subject of intense debate in Blue States like California.

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