Organized labor is having a moment unlike anything it has seen in decades. Marty Walsh, sworn in as the Secretary of Labor in March, is the first former union official to hold the office since the Ford administration. President Joe Biden formed a task force in April dedicated to strengthening workers’ ability to organize.
And now, a piece of legislation sits before the Senate that, if passed, would either empower workers to democratize their workplaces or spell the end for small businesses — depending on whom you ask. Witnesses at a July 22 Senate hearing on the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act included Gracie Heldman, a worker at an industrial bakery in McComb, Ohio, who said her employer had harassed and intimidated organizers, and Jyoti Sarolia, a principal and managing partner at a California-based hospitality company, who said the law’s independent contractor and joint-employer provisions would hurt franchisors.
The bill, which passed the House in March, would amend the National Labor Relations Act — as well as parts of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act — to restrict businesses from certain practices and empower union organizers at work.