The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports only 11% of American workers are in a union but Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) wants to change that with a new Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which he co-sponsored in February.
The PRO Act objectives are to bolster remedies and punish violations of workers’ rights, strengthen workers’ right to stand together and negotiate for better working conditions and make conditions more fair for workers.
“Unions make Ohio jobs pay off,” Brown said in a conference call with Ohio media Wednesday afternoon. “Unions are all about the dignity of work and giving workers a voice in the workplace. Strong unions need a strong middle class.”
Republican-driven, corporate-centered policies were directly responsible for declining union membership, he said.
“We’ve seen two generations of attacks from the right on unions,” he said. “Far right radicals and large corporate interests to weaken labor laws and union drives. Ohio legislatures are at the beck and call of First Energy. No shock there.
“Half of all workers want to join a union but they can’t because they never get the opportunity,” he said. “It’s like segregated housing. Whites are more likely to own a home because of Jim Crow laws, redlining (denial of financial services based on racial demographics rather than individual creditworthiness) and federal policies.
“Right wing attacks led to terrible policies that caused more plants to shut down here, move to China and sell goods back,” he said. “They get tax breaks to shut down and move where they face weaker labor laws and environmental protections.”
Corporate-centered policies favor Wall Street and, he said, “When workers try to organize under federal law it’s never a fair fight. We saw that with Amazon raking in profits at the expense of employees. Policies unleashed their power to fight workers.
“We saw that in northwest Ohio with the Consolidated Biscuit Company in McComb,” he said. “Harassment, firings and plant closures to stop workers from organizing.
“The Biden administration will change that,” he said. “They will make workers the center of our policy, tax and trade. The PRO Act gives everyone a fighting chance against union-busting activities.”