U.S. House of Representatives Passes Pro-Labor PRO Act
February 7, 2020
On February 6, 2020, the United States House of Representatives passed the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, referred to as the PRO Act, by a vote of 224-193. The legislation includes a number of labor-friendly provisions including: making it easier for employees to form a union; expanding the definition of “employee” to include workers currently classified as independent contractors; permitting the National Labor Relations Board to fine companies for violating labor laws; expanding workers’ compensation to include damages incurred as the result of workplace retaliation; increasing the ability of workers to boycott and strike; and weakening the power of so called “right-to-work” laws. It also would prohibit employers from subjecting employees to what are referred to as “captive audience” meetings, during which employers bring in anti-union speakers to lecture employees. If passed into law, the bill would result in the biggest change to U.S. labor law since Congress passed the anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act in 1947.
All but seven House Democrats voted in favor of the Act while all but five House Republicans voted against it. It was opposed by major business groups, including the Chamber of Commerce. Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, which would have to take up and approve the legislation in order for it to be able to be advanced to a vote by the full Senate, already has said that the Committee will not consider the Act during the current legislative session. It is not expected to receive a vote in the Senate under current Republican leadership, which has opposed the Act.