Sara Lonardo,, 202-730-7332

Issued February 07, 2020

SEIU members, Fight for $15 and a Union activists celebrate passage of the PRO Act

Working people say the bill takes strong first step in delivering unions for all

WASHINGTON, DC – Working people across the country applauded passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would make it easier for people to stand together and form unions. The PRO Act includes provisions to eliminate obstacles for workers to get their first union contract as well as stronger penalties for employers who break labor laws.

“We need to stop companies from using scare tactics like ordering captive audience meetings to attack the union and people who support the union,” said Jim Staus, a former University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) employee, who was fired by the healthcare giant when he tried to organize a union. “We also need real penalties so profitable companies will think twice about wrongfully firing people just for talking to our co-workers about having a voice on the job. Under current law there’s no real incentive for employers not to willfully violate workers’ rights.”

“With a union, we can negotiate for things like affordable health care, sick days, and paid time off to spend with friends and family,” said Elijah Taylor, a wheelchair attendant at George Bush Intercontinental Airport who is currently fighting for a union to raise wages and improve conditions for passengers and workers.   

“As a graduate worker, I’ve had to miss bill payments, skip doctor’s appointments, and even work two or three additional jobs to cover my living expenses,” said Yiran Zhang, a graduate worker at Loyola University Chicago. “I’m fighting for a living wage, respect for my labor, and a better life. I shouldn’t have to seek outside work up to 30 hours a week, on top of my graduate worker hours, just to make ends meet at the cost of finishing my program on time or being the best scholar and educator I can be.”

“I went from making $17 an hour and having benefits to making less than $10, working unstable hours and having no voice at work even when my safety is jeopardized,” says Gail Rodgers, a McDonald’s crew leader. Rodgers knows the difference a union makes - years ago she had a good union job as a janitor at the federal courthouse but had to quit when her husband and mother became ill. “I need a union. Because having that union, I will have someone on my side at all times and I wouldn’t just feel like I’m in this world alone.”