Connolly Supports PRO Act to Strengthen Unions

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Washington, February 6, 2020 | comments

Today, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Chairman of the Government Operations subcommittee, spoke on the House floor in support of H.R. 2474, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), legislation that would strengthen workers’ right to advocate, with one united voice, for higher pay, better benefits, and safer working conditions. The PRO Act passed the House 224-194.

Connolly’s full statement is below and video of his remarks can be found here.

I thank my good friend from California for his leadership, especially in bringing before us the Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019. Right now, in my home state, the Virginia General Assembly is engaged in a big debate about whether to repeal the “right-to-work” laws that have dominated our state for so many years -- a repeal I have long supported. That's why, today, I'm proud to stand with my good friend and fellow Virginian, Chairman Bobby Scott, in supporting this bill, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act.

Unions have been the backbone of a just and equitable economy. Their hard work gave us the five-day workweek. Their hard work gave us safer working conditions. Their hard work helps deliver fairer wages and better access to health care.

But this isn't just an economic issue. It's also a question of civil rights. Society itself is freer when workers are empowered to band together and negotiate for better pay, benefits, and working conditions. And, I might say, even in those states that are not right to work states it's hard to organize. But when you impose a “right-to-work” law, you've really stacked the odds in the ability of working men and women to organize themselves.

This is Black History Month, and I'm reminded of these words from Dr. Martin Luther King. He said, “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right-to-work.’ Whenever these laws have been passed,” he said, “wages are lower, job opportunities fewer, and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us,” he said. “We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.”

Dr. King was right.

Our weapon is our vote, and today we're going to exercise that weapon and strike a blow for working men and women and for restoring the constitutional right of working men and women to organize freely and benefit this economy. And benefit the quality of lives for people in communities all across this great land.

I urge passage of the bill and I support the rule underlying it. And I thank my friend from California for giving me the time. I yield back.

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