Progressive Democrats gathered on Capitol Hill Tuesday to call for more than $300 million for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) before the Republicans take back the House.
The NLRB appropriation would be one component of a nearly $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package Democrats hope to pass before the end of the year.
“I’m not going to sit here and pretend that a Republican controlled Congress is going to put this at the top of the docket. All right. We need to treat this with the urgency that we have,” said Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY.
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Democrats pushed the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which expands the right to unionize and collectively bargain within their workspaces, through the House but the bill died in the Senate. During that time, the funds for the NLRB dried up: the agency’s budget hasn’t increased in nine years and union petitions have spiked over 50% in the past six months.
“We passed the PRO Act out of the House, it didn’t pass in the Senate. And so working families are wondering what are we going to do in this Congress for that this is the least we can do.” said Rep Ro Khanna, D-CA. “This is in our control. We can blame the filibuster. This is in our negotiating control. We’re talking about crumbs when it comes to the federal budget.”
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The Senate Republican Policy Committee (RPC) said that the bill would be detrimental to economic pandemic recovery, claiming the PRO Act would “curb workers’ choices, threaten jobs, and increase costs on employers.”
However, Rep Jamaal Bowman, D-NY, announced that progressives are looking to resurrect the PRO Act, despite the political shift in the next session of Congress.
“We are with you here in Congress. And it doesn’t matter that the Republicans are going to ‘gain power in the House’. We are still going to organize. We are still going to fight. We are still going to do what needs to be done,” said Bowman.
Lawmakers also called to hold big corporations accountable for deterring unions from organizing.
“Tesla illegally restricted its workers from wearing pro-union apparel. It’s just pathetic,”said Rep Ilhan Omar, D, Minn. “We are also seeing big corporations and their CEOs routinely violate the law to bust unions and cling to their profit. The CEO of Starbucks is literally firing baristas who are organized in unions and is illegally stalling union negotiations.”
The call for more union resources comes after more than 100 Starbucks locations petitioned to form unions and over 100 Amazon facilities have contacted the Amazon Labor Union.
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