New York State AFL-CIO Hosts Forum with Senator Gillibrand on passing the PRO Act

Albany, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento for a virtual forum to discuss the PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act and why labor law reform is so desperately needed in this country.

The Facebook Live event was held on Thursday, April 29th. You can watch the entire event here.

“The New York State AFL-CIO stands shoulder-to-shoulder with union members across the country in support of the PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) ACT,” said Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO. “It is the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression. The PRO Act would expand collective bargaining and ensure that workers can exercise their freedom to organize.”

“For years, the divide between the country's wealthiest individuals and working families has been left unchecked and the pandemic threatens to deepen these inequities,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Unions are a critical tool for workers to achieve a fair and equitable workplace. The PRO Act is long overdue legislation that would strengthen federal labor laws and level the playing field for hard-working Americans. I will keep fighting to pass this bill to restore workers’ rights and ensure our economy works for everyone.”

Cilento added, “Union membership leads to better wages, better benefits, better working conditions and an improved quality of life. Passing the PRO ACT is exactly the legislation we need to help lift working people out of the most challenging health and economic crisis of our lifetime.

“We thank Senator Gillibrand and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for their leadership and for introducing the Pro Act and we call on their colleagues in the U. S. Senate to support the bill and fight for its swift passage,” Cilento said.  

Cilento added that he was proud to have Mike Foster, one of the lead organizers of RWDSU’s historic campaign to unionize workers at Amazon in Alabama as a guest speaker at the forum. 

Background: Nearly 60 million people say they would join a union today if they could. The problem? For years, big business lobbyists, union busting attorneys and CEOs have stopped at nothing to keep worker power at bay. They have weakened the National Labor Relations Act. They have attacked collective bargaining rights.

Under current law, the penalties against employers who illegally fire or penalize workers who are trying to form a union are a drop in the bucket. As a result, employers routinely retaliate against pro-union workers, because they know it will undermine the organizing campaign and they will face no real consequences. To them, it is simply the cost of doing business.

For the first time in modern history, however, there is a real chance to turn this around. The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act would hold employers accountable and institute civil penalties for violations of the law, including back pay and damages. 

The PRO Act would put the decision of whether to form a union back where it belongs—in the hands of workers, free from employer interference.