Guest Columnist

'PRO Act' would help workers

It's long past due for labor law reform

The Capitol is seen in Washington, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
The Capitol is seen in Washington, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

We are proud of our United States of America. The American dream is a value we hold dear and nothing shall impede us on that journey. One of the keys to that dream is dignity in the workplace. We deserve equity, respect, a safe working environment and a fair wage for a day’s work. However, our woefully outdated labor laws are no longer effective as a means for working people to counter the power of corporate America.

It’s long past due for labor law reform. Across the political spectrum, people are coming to the realization, if they already had not, that the tables are tilted in favor of powerful corporations. The PRO Act will change the power dynamics in America and give working people a real say in your own future.

This month, the PRO Act was introduced in the United States Congress. The PRO Act is the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression because it will empower workers to exercise our freedom to organize and ensure that workers can reach a first contract. It will hold corporations accountable and repeal Jim Crow-era laws like “right to work,” which lead to lower wages, fewer benefits, and more dangerous workplaces.

The PRO Act will make America’s economy work for working people. Here’s why: when union membership is greater, all of our wages are better. Between 1948 and 1973, when New Deal era laws expanded and enforced collective bargaining, hourly wages rose by more than 90 percent.

But over the next 40 years — from 1973 to 2013 — hourly wages rose by just over 9 percent while productivity increased 74 percent. As it is, workers are not getting paid a fair share of what we produce.

Workers in America favor unions and tens of millions want to join one. Research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows nearly 60 million people would vote to join a union today if given the opportunity. That is nearly half of non-union workers.

The PRO Act is how our laws catch up, with workers embracing collective action with a fervor not seen in generations. The PRO Act is the future, and the future is now.

Charlie Wishman is president of the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO.

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