Media Center

Feb 4

ATU applauds reintroduction of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act

Legislation will empower workers to exercise their freedom to organize and bargain

Silver Spring, MD –  Ensuring the right of working people to have a voice on the job, at the bargaining table, and on the picket line, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) applauded the reintroduction of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.

"We commend House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott for reintroducing the PRO Act, the most significant worker legislation in decades which will empower workers to exercise their freedom to organize and bargain," said ATU International President John Costa. "The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the true meaning of 'heroes,' and frontline employees like transit and school bus workers deserve a Federal Labor Law framework built to ensure that hard-working people are getting their fair share of economic growth."

Public transit employees work under difficult circumstances. Bus drivers work long shifts, refraining from drinking water because they don't get adequate time to use the restroom. They frequently get assaulted by angry passengers who don't want to pay increased fares for reduced service. During the pandemic, they also serve as the "mask police" and do their best to maintain social distancing on our nation's transit vehicles. Transit maintenance employees also do their jobs under dangerous conditions, from the garages they work in, to the tools they use, to the air they breathe.

"Oftentimes when low paid transit employees attempt to improve their standard of living by joining a union, they are thwarted by cold-blooded multinational companies," Costa continued. "These companies do everything they can to squash workers' dreams, and current U.S. Labor Laws enable them to do so. The PRO Act would modernize the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by bringing its remedies in line with other workplace laws."

This new legislation would impose appropriate financial penalties on companies that violate the code. It would also establish a process for mediation and arbitration to help the parties achieve a first contract, making the freedom to negotiate a reality for countless workers who form unions but never get to enjoy the benefits of a collective bargaining agreement.

"This is civil rights legislation that will protect the rights of all workers on the job and help our economy build back better," Costa continued. "We call on Congress to pass this bill immediately and send it for President Biden's signature to increase the power of American workers, rebuild our economy fairly, and grow America's labor movement."