House panel approves Right to Organize Act

The Democratic-controlled House Education and Labor Committee passed the Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, the most-comprehensive pro-worker rewrite of U.S. labor law in decades.

By a party-line 26-21 vote, the committee sent the law, co-written by top lawmakers and union legislative representatives, onto the House of Representatives for a full vote.

The PRO Act, which is House Resolution 2474, would restore many of the freedoms and protections workers gained under the original National Labor Relations Act of 1935.

It would undo much of the damage the GOP-passed Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 and later court decisions, NLRB rulings and other legislation, which gave more advantages to corporate entities.

The Right to Organize Act would also counter a key assumption of the NLRA – that bosses break labor law unintentionally, so penalties should be light – unlike other civil rights laws.

It includes high fines directed at CEOs and boards of directors, immediate restoration of illegally fired workers to their jobs and swift court injunctions. It would also outlaw state approved So-Called “Right to Work” laws.

The proposed legislation would also help curb employer misclassification of workers as independent contractors, depriving them of worker rights, including the right to organize. Instead, workers would automatically be considered employees, with full worker rights, unless and until an employer could prove otherwise.

“The PRO Act would stonewall employers from constant anti-union harangues in mandatory captive audience meetings and would ban what I would call right to freeload laws,” said Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., the former AFL-CIO Deputy Organizing Director.

While H.R. 2474 is expected to pass a full House vote, its future in the Senate is another matter, as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) lumps it in with other House-approved legislation – including federal election reform, the Green New Deal and Medicare For All – he considers, “socialism.”

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