WASHINGTON — Today, Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski helped introduce the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize Act – a bipartisan, comprehensive proposal to protect workers’ right to come together and bargain for higher wages, better benefits and safer workplaces.
“The labor movement built the middle class – but after years of attacks on workers’ rights, we need to strengthen it. That’s why I’ve fought on the side of working people my entire career and came to Congress to stand up for better wages, benefits and working conditions for folks in Central and Southern Illinois,” said Congresswoman Budzinski. “I’m proud to sign on as an original cosponsor of the PRO Act to defend the right to organize, hold employers accountable when they violate workers’ rights and secure free, fair and safe union elections. ”
The Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize Act has three major components that protect a worker’s right to organize. The first component empowers workers to join a union by streamlining the justice process for retaliation by companies and by enhancing the right for workers to boycott and strike. The second component holds employers accountable for violating employer rights by closing loopholes in labor laws and also by facilitating collective bargaining agreements. The final component aims to secure free and fair labor union elections so that union leadership represents the workers.
Large corporations and the wealthy continue to capture the rewards of a growing economy while working families and middle-class Americans are left behind. From 1979 to 2020, annual wages for the bottom 90 percent of households increased just 26 percent, while average incomes for the wealthiest 1 percent increased more than 160 percent.
Unions are critical to growing a strong middle class and creating an economy that rewards hard working people. Studies show that union members earn, on average, 10 percent more than those with similar education, occupation, and experience in a non-union workplace.
Public support for labor unions is also surging. According to a 2022 Gallup poll, 71 percent of Americans approve of labor unions—the highest that Gallup has recorded since 1965. Despite growing support for unions, decades of anti-union attacks have made it harder for workers to organize. Union membership has fallen to a new low of 10.1 percent in 2022. The PRO Act restores fairness to the economy by strengthening the federal law that protects workers’ right to join a union and bargain for higher pay, better benefits, and safer workplaces.
Congresswoman Budzinski is a trade unionist who worked in the labor movement before coming to Congress. She is a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.