Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Senate committee advances PRO Act

Today, in an 11-10 party-line vote, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions advanced the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO) Act of 2023 (S. 567). The PRO Act would expand collective bargaining rights for workers and make it easier to join unions.

This is the first Senate markup for the PRO Act, which passed in the House in the last two Congresses.

“Workers in America have the constitutional right to assemble and form a union,” Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said in his opening statement. “Over the last many decades, corporate interests have done everything that they can to make it impossible for workers to exercise that right. We will be dealing with that issue today.”

During the markup, Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who led the Republican opposition to the bill, expressed frustration with what he called a partisan markup on controversial legislation. The committee is known for considering issues that are of interest to both the majority and minority. The markup of the Affordable Care Act in 2009 was the last time the committee considered legislation that did not have interest from both sides of the aisle.

Republican Senators introduced three dozen amendments, all of which were rejected. The amendments ranged from banning remote voting in union elections, prohibiting undocumented workers from joining unions, protecting right-to-work laws, and more.

The next step is for the full Senate to consider the legislation. The bill is not expected to receive the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate filibuster or even be considered on the House floor.

Two other bills advanced in party-line votes during the markup. The Healthy Families Act (S. 1664), which would guarantee every worker receives up to seven paid sick days from their employer, and the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 728), which would address the gender wage gap by making it easier for women to come together, file and win lawsuits against employers who discriminate with wages. These bills also are not expected to reach the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate filibuster.


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