US Senator Alex Padilla backs legislation to strengthen workers’ right to unionize

California has more than 2.4 million unionized workers, representing 15.9% of state employees.

September 11, 2022 – WASHINGTON, DC – Last Friday, U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) joined Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) to reintroduce the National Right to Organize Act, legislation that would support the right to organize by prohibiting states from banning union security agreements through “right to work” laws.

Senator Alex Padilla (D-California)

Twenty-seven states have enacted “right to work” laws that prevent unions from collecting dues from nonunion members who are covered by a union-negotiated contract. These laws make it harder for workers to form unions and fight for higher wages and better working conditions in states that pass them, resulting in a 5% drop in unionization rates and lower wages averages for all full-time workers of 3.1%. percent, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute, or about $11,000 a year, according to a report by Rep. Sherman’s office. California is home to more than 2.4 million unionized workers, as of 2021, which represents 15.9% of state employees.

A similar proposal is included in the Law on Protection of the Right to Organize (PRO)that lawmakers support and that would protect the right of American workers to organize and bargain for better wages and working conditions.

“Every worker deserves to have access to the protections offered by unions, and no state should be able to restrict this right,” said Senator Padilla. “As momentum builds for workers across the country to organize, I will continue the fight to ensure that Congress protects workers and improves working conditions for all.”

“Republicans and their corporate-interest supporters have imposed state laws with one goal: to destroy unions and discourage workers from organizing for higher wages, fair benefits, and safer working conditions.” , said Senator Warren. “At a time when unions are growing in size, popularity and delivering real victories for workers, Democrats make it clear that we stand in solidarity with workers everywhere, from Starbucks baristas to Google cafeteria workers and everyone others.”

“So-called ‘right to work’ laws are designed to make it difficult to organize a union,” said Congressman Sherman. “This not only impacts workers who want a union, but also general wage levels across the state. In a misguided effort to attract business, state after state passed these anti-union laws in a race to the bottom. That’s why today, I’m proud to join Senator Warren in reintroducing the National Right to Organize Act, legislation I’ve introduced in every session of Congress since 2008.”

Senator Padilla is a long-time advocate for equal employment opportunity, fair wages, the right to organize and improved workplace safety standards. As a California state senator, Padilla introduced legislation, which was later signed into law, to require hospitals to adopt a workplace violence prevention plan as part of the overall injury and injury prevention plan. hospital illnesses. In the United States Senate, he was a strong supporter of the $15 minimum wage and co-sponsored the Wage Increase Act 2021 raise the federal minimum wage. He is also a proud co-sponsor of Protection of the Right to Organize (PRO) Act 2021. Last month, the senator hosted an event with Rep. Judy Chu in Los Angeles as well as union and worker representatives to advocate for federal heat stress protections in the workplace.

In addition to Padilla, Warren and Sherman, this legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Duckworth (D-Ill.), Wyden (D-Ore.), Luján (DN.M.), Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Gillibrand ( DN.Y.), Booker (DN.J.), Markey (D-Mass.), Merkley (D-Ore.), Hassan (DN.H.), Sanders (I-Vt.), Smith (D- Minn.), Stabenow (D-Mich.), Cardin (D-Md.), Brown (D-Ohio), Hirono (D-Hawai’i), Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Klobuchar (D-Minn. ) and Reps. Lynch (D-Mass.), Norton (D-DC), Garamendi (D-Calif.), Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Swalwell (D-Calif.), Moulton (D-Mass.) , Speier (D-Calif.), Raskin (D-Md.), Brownley (D-Calif.), Kildee (D-Mich.), Nadler (DN.Y.) and Jayapal (D-Wash. ).

The legislation has received support from the following advocacy and expert organizations: American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), International Brotherhood of Teamsters, United Steelworkers , the Transport Workers Union of America, International Union of Operating Engineers, Communications Workers of America, Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, International Association of Machinists, United Food & Commercial Workers Union, and Aerospace Workers, Economic Policy Institute, Worker Power Coalition, and National Labor Law Project.

“Senator Warren’s National Right to Unionize Act would finally begin to put workers’ interests first in our nation’s labor laws, which have always been in favor of employers,” said Marc Perrone, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. “The brave and essential workers who make up UFCW can attest to the fact that the best way to improve a workplace has always been for workers to organize, form a union and fight together for their rights. Today, thousands upon thousands of Americans are doing just that, and despite all the unfair obstacles they must overcome, workers are successfully organizing in new industries and new workplaces. Passing this bill and rolling back decades and decades of anti-labor legislation would be one of the most important steps we could possibly take to empower the American workers who make this country work.

“So-called ‘right to work’ laws have their roots in some of the ugliest parts of our country’s history,” said Rebecca Dixon, executive director, National Employment Law Project. “Like so many other workplace laws, the ‘Right to Work’ is a policy designed to ensure that white people do not have to join unions and associate their destinies and interests with those of black workers. from South. Today, these laws are working exactly as intended and driving down wages and working conditions in far too many states where large portions of the working class are people of color. NELP commends Senator Warren for introducing the National Right to Unionize Act to end this policy and ensure that all workers, no matter what state they live in, can join their colleagues and strengthen their power to determine their working conditions. »

“The so-called ‘right to work’ laws have nothing to do with guaranteeing anyone a job – these state laws are run by anti-labour, anti-union forces that seek to undermine bargaining power, wages and workers’ rights. people,” said Matthew Biggs, President of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) and IFPTE Secretary-Treasurer, Gay Henson. “Our union commends Senator Warren for reintroducing the National Right to Unionize Act which restores a fundamental labor standard across the United States so that all workers have the right to assemble, bargain collectively and build union power in unions that have the resources to represent all members.”

“We are living in an incredible moment in history where more and more workers are increasingly interested in bringing the power of a union to their workplace,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. “We have an opportunity to transform the labor movement, but only if we do what is required of us at this time and remove the barriers workers face to exercise their power. It is high time to eliminate the right to work for less laws that corporations have used to systematically reduce the power of unions and the ability of workers to come together and fight collectively to improve their lives and those of their families. We are encouraged by the leadership of Senator Warren and all supporters of this bill and determined to see it cross the finish line.

“AFGE supports the national law on the right to unionise”, AFGE said. “AFGE strongly supports the right of all workers to unionize in the workplace to ensure safety, health and fairness at work. AFGE congratulates Senator Warren for introducing this bill which will bring us closer to granting union rights to all workers.

“Across the country, workers are demanding the freedom to band together and claim a seat at the table – in fact, the latest Gallup poll shows a 71% approval rating for unions,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “To unleash the system and make it easier to organize, we need to repeal the so-called ‘right to work’ laws, which are rooted in white supremacy and allow employers to silence the voice of workers. We commend Senator Warren for pushing back against the National Right to Unionize Act, which would knock these unfair laws off the books and help level the playing field for private sector workers.

“A recent Gallup poll showed that 71% of Americans support the right of workers to unionize – and tens of millions of Americans would join a union today if given the chance,” Chip Shannon, Executive Director, Worker Power Coalition. “Right now, a wave of union organizing is sweeping the country as workers at stores like Starbucks, Amazon, Trader Joes and Apple stand up and demand their rights to collectively bargain in the workplace. For too long, so-called right to work laws have prevented workers from fully realizing their ability to organize to fight for better wages, benefits and working conditions. The Worker Power Coalition, which represents 24 million workers from more than 40 labor and social justice organizations, is committed to updating our labor laws to better protect workers. We enthusiastically support the national law on the right to organize.

The full text of the bill is available here.
Source: Senator Alex Padilla

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