AFL-CIO: 5 Ways the PRO Act Will Help Address Systemic Racism

Labor News, Industry News

Reprinted from the AFL-CIO blog Now by its staff on April 29, 2021.

Senator Patty Murray (Washington) and Representative Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (Virginia) have introduced the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which restores the right of workers to freely and fairly form a union and bargain together for changes in the workplace. The PRO Act is landmark worker empowerment, civil rights and economic stimulus legislation and an essential part of any plan to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic and recession. The provisions of the PRO Act will help all working families, but in particular, the PRO Act will help address systemic racism.

Here are five ways it does that:

1. The union advantage is greater for Black, Latino, women, immigrant, LGBTQ and other workers who have experienced workplace discrimination. Black, Latino and women workers are paid 13.7%, 20.1% and 5.8% more, respectively, when they belong to a union. Union contracts pay women and men the same for doing the same job. You cannot be fired for your sexual orientation or gender identity under a union contract.

2. The latest research shows that the rapid growth of unions in the 20th century dramatically reduced inequality by extending the union advantage to more workers, particularly lower-income workers and Black workers, while at the same time raising standards for nonunion workers across entire industries. Growing today’s labor movement is the only policy that has the scale necessary to take us off our current trajectory of ever-growing inequality. Without it, broadly shared prosperity that extends to most working people has virtually no chance. …

AFL-CIO Now 4/29

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Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at