Labor Day is a day that celebrates workers in the U.S., and that’s more important this year than ever. Due to the ongoing pandemic, hundreds of thousands of workers have lost their jobs. Black and Latinx workers have been hit especially hard. Meanwhile, many frontline workers continue to work, risking their health to ensure the rest of us can survive. Women—especially those with children—have had the impossible task of juggling work with the new role of homeschool teacher. As a result, women have left the workforce in droves.
We can’t forget that we have Labor Day because of labor unions, and today, despite the fact that almost half of workers want to be in a union, only around 12% actually are. Women and people of color particularly benefit from union membership, since collective bargaining agreements often outline policies that reduce gender- and race-based pay disparities and discrimination. Unionized workers also typically have better access to paid sick leave and other benefits, which are crucial in a pandemic.
So why aren’t more workers in unions? That’s because it’s very difficult to organize in workplaces where workers are forced to attend anti-union meetings, workers are punished or even fired for attempting to unionize, and right-to-work laws—which are rooted in racism—financially hobble unions.
This is why we’re urging Congress to pass the Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. The law would overturn those right-to-work laws and prohibit “captive audience” meetings and other union-busting tactics. The law passed the House of Representatives, and is now awaiting further action in the Senate.
There’s been a lot of momentum in the labor movement recently, with workers at companies around the U.S. forming unions and waging strikes that capture national attention—like the current strike organized by workers of Mondelez International, the parent company of Nabisco. But as we saw with the effort to unionize an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, workers are up against corporations with seemingly unlimited resources.
At Jobs to Move America, we believe workers have the power to shape the trajectory of the economy amidst rapidly evolving conditions—including climate change, automation, and crises like the pandemic. Through our work to overturn the ban on local hire, which would ensure thousands of people can get back to work on key projects happening where they live, we aim to center workers in the economy. With our work to win good Community Benefits Agreements, we ensure that public dollars do the most public good by providing jobs with family-sustaining wages.
But one of the best tools workers have to leverage that power is through unions. This Labor Day, to say thanks to workers we need Congress to pass the PRO Act. Unions were essential to voicing the concerns of workers during the worst of the pandemic, and they’ll continue to be central to protecting workers coming out of it.
Write or call your Members of Congress and urge them to include the PRO Act in the reconciliation process!