Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Worker protections act introduced in House, Senate

On Sept. 16, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Workplace Action for a Growing Economy (WAGE) Act, a bill that aims to strengthen the protections for workers who band together and to ensure that corporations that violate workers’ rights face real-life consequences.

The WAGE Act seeks to strengthen protections for workers and discourage employer retaliation against them for exercising their rights by:

  • Providing for swift temporary reinstatement when workers are fired or retaliated against for exercising their rights to join together to seek improvements on the job.
  • Strengthening remedies for workers who are fired or retaliated against, and giving workers the ability to bring their cases directly to the court system.
  • Establishing strong penalties against employers who violate workers’ rights.
  • Providing meaningful, timely remedies when employers interfere with fair elections

“This legislation is critical to workers, their families and our nation’s economy,” Scott said. “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. They have gotten away with it because the National Labor Relations Act—the law protecting workers’ right to organize—leaves workers with little or no recourse.”

The NLRA protects the right of all private-sector workers to engage in collective, concerted activity with their co-workers to win improvements on the job. But the law is often stacked against workers, and penalties against employers who interfere with or retaliate against workers for exercising their rights are weak.

“Too often, as workers are underpaid, overworked, and treated unfairly on the job,” Murray said, “some companies are doing everything they can to prevent them from having a voice in the workplace. The WAGE Act would strengthen protections for all workers and it would finally crack down on employers who break the law when workers exercise their basic right to collective action.”

In addition, the WAGE Act allows working people the ability to discuss pay with each other and find out whether their employer is paying women less, and would provide real remedies and penalties if their employer interferes with their actions. The legislation also applies in situations where workers are joining together to form a union.

“Letter carriers might recall the labor movement’s sadly unsuccessful fight a few years to get the Employee Free Choice Act passed,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “Just as we supported EFCA then, we strongly endorse the WAGE Act now as a fresh approach to gaining the protection of the rights of all workers: those who want to form a union, and those who just want to join with their co-workers to lobby for better working conditions.”

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