House approves pro-union labor bill

House approves pro-union labor bill
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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. FitzpatrickRedistricting reform key to achieving the bipartisanship Americans claim to want House GOP members introduce legislation targeting Russia over Ukraine Ukraine president, US lawmakers huddle amid tensions with Russia MORE (Pa.), Chris SmithChristopher (Chris) Henry SmithLawmakers seek 'assurances' Olympic uniforms not linked to forced labor Biden signs bill punishing China for Uyghur abuses Last living Nuremberg Trials prosecutor deserves Congressional Gold Medal MORE (N.J.), John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Schumer tees up doomed election reform vote Democrats eye prime pickup chance in Katko retirement Clyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' MORE (N.Y.), Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungWest Virginia lawmaker slams GOP colleague over support for infrastructure law Congress to take up marijuana reform this spring Thanks to President Biden, infrastructure is bipartisan again — it needs to stay that way MORE (Alaska), and Jefferson Van Drew (N.J.), a former Democrat who switched parties last month, voted for the bill.

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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 ScottProposed Virginia maps put rising-star House Democrats at risk Industry, labor groups at odds over financial penalties in spending package Historically Black colleges and universities could see historic funding under Biden plan 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 SandersDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Briahna Joy Gray: Last-minute push for voting legislation felt 'perfomative' Biden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Biden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service Trump by the numbers: 2024 isn't simple 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.” 

“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.