Wyden, Merkley, Colleagues Introduce PRO Act Legislation to Protect Workers’ Right to Organize

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley said today they have joined a bipartisan group of senators to introduce comprehensive legislation that would protect workers’ right to organize and bargain for higher wages, better benefits, and safer workplaces in Oregon and nationwide.

“From child labor laws to sick leave and overtime, some of the most vital worker rights and protections exist thanks to the tireless efforts of unions,” Wyden said. “We cannot allow ultra-wealthy CEOs and shareholders to line their pockets at the expense of working Oregonians and Americans, worsening our nation’s already-massive income inequality. That’s why I support this timely and common-sense legislation that would empower workers to unionize and advocate for better wages, benefits and working conditions.”

“Workers across the nation are unionizing for better pay and working conditions, but corporations are using underhanded union-busting techniques to stop them. For too long, the powerful and privileged have rigged our economy to protect themselves and their wealth—often by exploiting the workers who created that wealth in the first place. This must change,” Merkley said. “As the son of a union machinist, I saw up close the difference a strong union can make in delivering the fair wages and robust workplace protections that every worker deserves. That’s why I’m fully committed to doing all that I can to keep partnering with and supporting America’s unions. It’s time to strengthen American workers’ ability to bargain collectively and negotiate for a better deal.”

Unions are crucial to growing a strong middle class and creating an economy that rewards hardworking 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. Despite growing support for unions, decades of anti-union attacks have made it harder for workers to organize. The Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act of 2023 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.

“The PRO Act is how we level the playing field. It is how we stop the intimidation, the lies. This is how we let workers, not wealthy corporations, decide for themselves if they want the power of a union,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler.

The PRO Act would protect the basic right to join a union by doing the following:

  • Holding employers accountable for violating workers’ rights by authorizing meaningful penalties, facilitating initial collective bargaining agreements, and closing loopholes that allow employers to misclassify their employees as supervisors and independent contractors.
  • Empowering workers to exercise their right to organize by strengthening support for workers who suffer retaliation for exercising their rights, protecting workers’ right to support secondary boycotts, ensuring workers can collect “fair share” fees, and authorizing a private right of action for violation of workers’ rights.
  • Securing free, fair, and safe union elections by preventing employers from interfering in union elections, prohibiting captive audience meetings, and requiring employers to be transparent with their workers.

A bill text of the PRO Act is here.

A fact sheet on the PRO Act is here.

A section-by-section summary of the PRO Act is here.

A web version of this release is here.