Legislation from United States of America House of Representatives

Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019

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Summary
Title:

Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019

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05/02/19

Introduced

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Introduced in House

Date: May 2, 2019

Content
Code:
116.HR.2474
Subject:
Labor and Employment
Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019
Date: May 2, 2019 Official Title: To amend the National Labor Relations Act, the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, and for other purposes.Short title This Act may be cited as the "Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019".Findings Congress finds the following:
  • (1) The National Labor Relations Act ( et seq.) was enacted to encourage the practice of collective bargaining and to protect the exercise by workers of full freedom of association in the workplace. Since its enactment in 1935, tens of millions of workers have bargained with their employers over wages, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment and have raised the standard of living for all workers.
  • (2) According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union members earn 25.6 percent more than workers who are not covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Workers who are represented by a union are 28 percent more likely to be offered health insurance through work and nearly five times more likely to have defined benefit pensions. The wage differential is significant for women and people of color. African-American union members earn 25 percent more than African-American workers who are not covered by a collective bargaining agreement, and Latino union members earn 42.6 percent more than Latino workers who are not covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Women union members earn 30 percent more than women who are not covered by a collective bargaining agreement, and the wage gap between men and women is much smaller at workplaces covered by a collective bargaining agreement because collective bargaining agreements ensure the same rate is paid to workers for a particular job without regard to gender. The wage and benefit gains achieved through collective bargaining agreements benefit both workers and their communities.
  • (3) Unions and collective bargaining ensure that productivity gains are shared by working people. The decline in the percentage of workers covered by collective bargaining has contributed to skyrocketing income inequality and wage stagnation for the average worker.
  • (4) The National Labor Relations Act protects the right of workers to join together with their coworkers in concerted activities for their mutual aid or protection. This protection applies broadly to all concerted activities by workers aimed at improving the terms and conditions of their employment or aiding each other in any way, regardless of whether workers are seeking to form a union or engage in collective bargaining with their employer.
  • (5) The Act protects the right of workers to discuss issues like pay and benefits without retaliation or interference by employers. However, the awareness of workers regarding their rights under the Act is lacking, due in part to the absence of any legally required notice informing workers of the rights and responsibilities under the Act. Many employers maintain policies that restrict the ability of workers to discuss workplace issues with each other, directly contravening these rights. Research shows that more than one half of workers report that their employers have policies that prohibit or discourage workers from discussing pay with their coworkers. These policies and practices impede workers from exercising their rights under the Act and impair their freedom of association at work.
  • (6) Retaliation by employers against workers who exercise their rights under the National Labor Relations Act persists at troubling levels. Employers routinely fire workers for trying to form a union at their workplace. In one out of three organizing campaigns, one or more workers are discharged for supporting or joining a union.
  • (7) The current remedies are inadequate to deter employers from violating the National Labor Relations Act. The remedies and penalties for violations of the Act are far weaker than for other labor and employment laws. Unlike other major labor and employment laws, there are no civil penalties for violations of the National Labor Relations Act. Workers cannot go to court to pursue relief on their own and must rely on the National Labor Relations Board to prosecute their case. Should the Board decline to prosecute for any reason, aggrieved workers have no other remedy.
  • (8) Unlike orders of other Federal agencies, the orders of the National Labor Relations Board are not enforced until the Board seeks enforcement from a court of appeals. As far back as 1969, the Administrative Conference of the United States recognized that the absence of a self-enforcing agency order imposes wasteful delays in the enforcement of the National Labor Relations Act, and recommended that the Board's orders be made self-enforcing like those of other agencies. Congress did not act upon this recommendation, and delays in the Board's enforcement remain a problem undermining the effectiveness of the Act.
  • (9) Many workers do not currently enjoy the protections of the National Labor Relations Act because they are excluded from coverage under the Act or interpretations of the Act.
  • (10) Too often, workers who choose to form unions are frustrated when their employers use delay and other tactics to avoid reaching an initial collective bargaining agreement. Estimates are that in as many as half of new organizing campaigns, workers and their employers fail to reach an initial collective bargaining agreement.
  • (11) While the National Labor Relations Act guarantees workers the right to strike, courts have permitted employers to "permanently replace" workers who exercise their right to strike. This is contrary to Congress's intent in enacting the National Labor Relations Act and has led to confusion among workers regarding their right to strike.
  • (12) Hearings under section 9 of the National Labor Relations Act () exist to assure to workers the fullest freedom in exercising the rights guaranteed by the Act. However, some employers have abused the representation process of the National Labor Relations Board to impede workers from freely choosing their own representatives and exercising their rights under the Act.
  • (13) So-called "right-to-work" laws do not give any worker the right to a job. While Federal law requires unions to fairly represent all members of a given bargaining unit, and thereby expend resources on all unit members, many States' so-called "right-to-work" laws prohibit unions from charging all members for the representation and services that the unions are legally obliged to render. Section 14(b) of the National Labor Relations Act () must be reformed to permit unions and employers to mutually agree that payment of fair share fees shall be a condition of employment following initial hiring.
  • (14) Restrictions on so-called "secondary boycotts" and "recognitional picketing" unduly impede workers' ability to engage in peaceful conduct and expression. Workers must be free to act in solidarity with workers in other workplaces in order to improve labor standards and achieve other lawful ends for mutual aid or protection.
  • (15) In order to make the right to collective bargaining and freedom of association in the workplace a reality for workers, the National Labor Relations Act must be strengthened.Purposes