Scott, Committee Democrats Introduce Bill to Protect Freedom to Join Unions
WASHINGTON – TODAY, Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), ranking member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, along with Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, Congressman Gregorio Sablan (MP-AL), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), and Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01) introduced H.R. 4548, the Workplace Action for a Growing Economy Act of 2017, or the WAGE Act.
“For too long, employers have used illegal tactics to fight back against union organizing drives – tactics like threatening workers and firing them for union activity,” said Congressman Scott (VA-03). “They have gotten away with it because the National Labor Relations Act – the law protecting workers’ right to organize – leaves workers with insufficient recourse. The WAGE Act changes that by creating meaningful penalties to prevent employers from violating the right to organize, by strengthening remedies for workers who suffer retaliation for exercising their rights, and by guaranteeing the right to seek relief in federal court.”
“Strengthening workers’ ability to join a union and collectively bargain for pay and benefits is critical to restoring America’s middle class, which has been hallowed out by decades of anti-worker policies,” said Congressman Takano (CA-41). “This legislation is a step toward fixing the rules of the economy, which have left so many American workers behind.”
“When working Americans are empowered to collectively bargain with their employers over wages and conditions of employment, wage growth can be linked to gains in productivity,” said Congressman Sablan (MP-AL). “By safeguarding workers’ freedom to join unions and negotiate with their employers, the WAGE Act protects workers’ abilities to share in the wealth they create.”
“If you value the 40-hour, 5-day work week, child labor laws, family and medical leave, pensions, workplace safety policies, and fair wages—you can thank a union,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11). “I am proud to partner with my colleagues in this effort to strengthen unions, which will continue to help all our nation’s workers.”
“I worked for decades as an electrician and I know firsthand that having a voice in the workplace leads to higher wages and fairer working conditions,” said Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01). “Unfortunately, the penalties for bad actors who break labor organizing laws are slaps on the wrist. It’s time we stand up for hardworking Americans by creating meaningful consequences to denying someone a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work.”
America’s working people are more productive than ever, yet they are not receiving their fair share of the wealth they create. Research shows that the decline in union density has contributed to wage stagnation and the erosion of the middle class. The freedom to join a union and collectively bargain is critical to reversing this trend and boosting stagnant wages.
The WAGE Act deters employers from violating the National Labor Relations Act when workers exercise their rights to join unions. It does so by requiring civil penalties for serious violations, strengthening remedies for workers who have been unlawfully discharged, and empowering workers with the right to seek relief in federal court—similar to rights guaranteed under other civil rights and employment laws.
The WAGE Act protects the freedom to join a union by:
- Increasing transparency by requiring employers to post notices of workers’ rights under the NLRA.
- Creating penalties to prevent violations of workers’ rights to join unions or engage in collective action.
- Strengthening remedies for workers who suffer retaliation for exercising their rights under the NLRA.
- Expanding coverage of the NLRA to prevent workers from being denied their legal recourse.
- Streamlining the process for workers to organize a union and negotiate a first contract.
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