House approves pro-union labor bill

House approves pro-union labor bill
© Getty Images

The House on Thursday approved legislation aimed to protect workers’ rights to unionize.

The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) was approved in a 224-193 vote. The bill, said to be one of the most comprehensive labor packages put forth in years, is not expected to move in the Republican Senate.

Republicans Reps. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickGun control group rolls out House endorsements House Democrats make initial ad buys in battleground states Bipartisan Senate group offers new help to state, local governments MORE (Pa.), Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithNY, NJ lawmakers call for more aid to help fight coronavirus Stranded Americans accuse airlines of price gouging Lawmakers propose waiving travel fees for coronavirus evacuations abroad MORE (N.J.), John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoStates plead for cybersecurity funds as hacking threat surges GOP Rep. Pete King to buck party, vote for Democrats' coronavirus relief bill Lawmakers offer bill to expand employee retention tax credit MORE (N.Y.), Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungHillicon Valley: Apple, Google launch virus tracing system | Republican says panel should no longer use Zoom | Lawmakers introduce bill to expand telehealth House lawmakers introduce bipartisan bill to expand telehealth services Campaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis MORE (Alaska), and Jefferson Van Drew (N.J.), a former Democrat who switched parties last month, voted for the bill.

ADVERTISEMENT

The bill would make it easier for workers to certify unions, change how employers classify workers, prevent workers from being denied rights because of immigration status, eliminate state right-to-work laws and block laws that protect employees from not paying union dues, among other measures.

The legislation was introduced by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottLack of child care poses major hurdle as businesses reopen Unions worry Congress is one step closer to a liability shield Victim advocacy groups, Democratic lawmakers slam new campus sexual assault policies MORE (D-Va.) and had 218 co-sponsors. 

Big Labor lobbied for passage of the bill while business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the International Franchise Association and the National Retail Federation lobbied against it.

Top-tier Democratic presidential candidates have largely supported the bill and Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe battle of two Cubas Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Ro Khanna Democrats gear up to hit GOP senators on DACA MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Memo: Trump ratchets up Twitter turmoil Hillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence' | Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged sanctions violations | Senators urge FTC to investigate TikTok child privacy issues Warren condemns 'horrific' Trump tweet on Minneapolis protests, other senators chime in MORE (D-Mass.) have included provisions from it in their labor policy plans.

However, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Suzanne Clark said in a statement following the vote that the pro-business lobbying group was “disappointed.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

“It violates workers’ privacy, takes away private ballots in union organizing elections, imposes California’s restrictive independent contractor test that is already costing people their livelihoods, and threatens workers with the loss of a job if they don’t pay union dues,” she said. “Members of Congress will not get a free pass on this vote just because the PRO Act will not get through the Senate.”

Americans for Prosperity, the conservative political advocacy group backed by Charles Koch, said the bill “would erode the constitutional rights of workers.”

And, the National Retail Federation sent a final letter to the House on Thursday, urging members to vote against the bill.