Across the country workers aspire to be in unions. A recent Gallop Poll shows that union approval stands at 66%; one of the highest marks in sixty years. Furthermore, research from MIT revealed that more than 60 million people would vote to join a union today if given the opportunity. The problem is most of them will never get that chance.
Consider what’s happening in Bessemer, Alabama. There 5,800 Amazon employees are attempting to organize a union at their enormous warehouse facility. Amazon has been relentless in its effort to defeat the organizing campaign.
As reported by Steven Greenhouse of the New York times, everyday workers receive several texts with anti-union messages. It makes workers attend so called “informational meetings” where managers belittle unions. Amazon has retained the services of an anti-union consultant firm that spearheads the corporation’s drive to defeat the union. Each individual consultant is paid $3,200 a day by Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos.
Amazon has even gone as far to erect on-site billboards condemning the union effort. It even put anti-union posters in the bathroom stalls. All of these tactics are legal under current labor law. Things have become so intense that even President Biden sent the Bessemer workers a video message affirming their right to form a union.
The National Labor Relations Act, passed in 1935, was a cornerstone of New Deal Legislation. But since 1947, amendments to the original law have created loopholes and road-blocks for workers who wish to enjoy union representation. Between 1948 and 1973, when collective bargaining was at its strongest, hourly wages grew by more then 90%. However, over the last forty years, hourly wages rose by just 9% while productivity increased 74%. Workers are not getting paid a fair share of what they produce.
The PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act is a once in a generational opportunity to establish a Workers First Agenda. This isn’t just any bill; it’s civil rights legislation, protecting women, immigrants, people of color and the LGBTQ community. It will put more money in the pockets of workers who will spend those wages where they live and stimulate the entire economy.
We can build America back better if we give working families all the advantages they deserve. It’s time to pass the PRO Act.
President, Fox Valley Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO