Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Worker protections act introduced in House, Senate

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the Workplace Action for a Growing Economy (WAGE) Act, a bill that aims to strengthen the protections for workers who band together, ensure real-life consequences for corporations that violate workers’ rights, and counter the epidemic of the country’s continued middle-class wage stagnation.

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

“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 Rep. Scott. “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.”

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.

“All workers deserve to have a voice where they work so they can bargain for better pay and protections at work.” said Sen. Brown. “At a time when our workers are working harder for less, we should make it easier for them to form a union, and we should crack down on employers who try to deny them their freedom to organize.”

“The Trump Administration’s attacks on unions and working families show that it is willing to undermine the middle class in order help wealthy corporations increase their profits—even if those profits are made on the backs of their workers,” said Sen. Murray. “We will not be able to grow our economy as long as workers are being underpaid, overworked, or treated unfairly on the job, so I’m proud to introduce the WAGE Act today to once again give workers a voice to join together advocate for themselves.”

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.

“Just as we supported the legislative efforts on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) a few years ago,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said, “we strongly endorse the WAGE Act now to improve 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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