The PRO Act would undo decades of Southern anti-union laws rooted in racism
By Olivia Paschal March 11, 2021
The U.S. House of Representative passed the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act this week, with 42 House Democrats from Southern states as cosponsors.
The bill is one of the most ambitious attempts to strengthen the rights of workers and unions in decades. Its centerpiece is a provision that would override so-called "right-to-work" laws by allowing unions to collect dues from represented workers in states with such laws even if those workers have not joined the union.
"As America works to recover from the devastating challenges of deadly pandemic, an economic crisis, and reckoning on race that reveals deep disparities, we need to summon a new wave of worker power to create an economy that works for everyone," Biden said in the statement. "We should all remember that the National Labor Relations Act didn't just say that we shouldn't hamstring unions or merely tolerate them. It said that we should encourage unions. The PRO Act would take critical steps to help restore this intent."
The bill was first introduced in Congress last session, when the Senate was still led by Republicans. With Democrats narrowly controlling the Senate this year, it theoretically stands a better chance — but will likely be stymied by the filibuster, which requires a 60-vote supermajority to break. Just one senator from the South has signed on to sponsor the bill to date — Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. Discussions are underway in the Senate about reforming the filibuster, which itself has a long history of being used to block civil rights legislation.