House Democrats press for Pro Act vote as industry steps up attacks

  • January 10, 2020

Six dozen House Democrats today asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hold a vote on a far-reaching labor bill that passed out of committee in September.

The “Protecting the Right to Organize Act,” H.R. 2474 (116), would make it easier for workers to unionize. Although the bill has little chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate, House Democrats in union-heavy districts are eager to pass it in case Democrats take back the upper chamber and the White House in November.

Seventy-two House Democrats told Pelosi in a letter Thursday that the bill “should be brought to the House floor swiftly.”

“It has 219 sponsors and cosponsors, including several Republicans, indicating that it would pass the House with bipartisan support,” the members wrote. “We can and should pass it now.”

The legislation would allow employees to form unions under certain circumstances by “card check” (that is, through the informal collection of authorization forms from a majority within the bargaining unit) and would grant the NLRB the power to levy punitive fines on employers that violate labor law; right now the NLRB can collect only back pay.

The bill has two Republican co-sponsors, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.) and Chris Smith (N.J.).

Business opponents of the bill are trying to peel off vulnerable Democrats and to stop more Republicans from signing on. The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, a conservative business group that opposes pro-union legislation, says it has polling data that shows Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) will lose support in his district if he votes yes.

“Though currently popular with his voters, Joe Cunningham can alienate voters by supporting an unpopular labor bill,” said a polling memo prepared by GS Strategy Group. Cunningham’s office did not respond to requests for comment on whether he plans to vote for the bill.