July 26, 2021
Senate Holds Hearing on PRO Act, Proponents Drum Up Support
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee held a hearing Thursday morning on H.R. 842, the PRO Act. This bill would protect the rights of workers to unionize in several ways. In her opening statement, Sen. Patty Murray (WA), Committee Chairwoman, railed against the inaction on union protections, saying “[t]he National Labor Relations Act hasn’t been significantly updated since 1947, and the failure to do so has led to serious problems for workers trying to have a voice in their workplaces.”
The legislation will remove barriers that keep workers from forming a union and enable them to bargain for better wages, benefits, and safer workplaces. Workers who form or join a union have greater retirement security. Union workers earn more and can negotiate for benefits such as health care, pensions and employer contributions to retirement plans, which leads to higher income and increased Social Security benefits in retirement. Further, unions often come with negotiated defined benefit pensions, which provide lifelong retirement income.
The hearing fell during the AFL-CIO’s PRO Act Week of Action, with Americans across the country sharing their story and making a case for the bill. Alliance members in several states joined AFL-CIO members at events outside all 100 senators’ offices. The Illinois, Nebraska and Pennsylvania Alliance chapters were among those playing a key role in the events.
“The Senate’s PRO Act hearing made it even more clear that this legislation needs to be passed today,” said Robert Roach, Jr., President of the Alliance. “Rebuilding our economy has to include ensuring that every worker has the right to join or form a union and negotiate for higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions.”