June 15, 2018

Merkley, Wyden Join New Legislation To Provide A Better Deal For Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today joined their colleagues in the Senate and House to introduce the Workers’ Freedom to Negotiate Act, legislation that would strengthen workers’ freedom to join unions and negotiate collectively to win better pay and conditions; stiffen penalties on corporations; protect workers’ right to strike; streamline procedures to secure worker freedoms; and protect the integrity of union elections.

“When workers get together to negotiate better wages and working conditions, they get better wages and working conditions—and that is exactly why the privileged and powerful are anti-union,” Merkley said. “The Trump Administration is advancing an agenda to make sure that workers get less and bosses get more, to prevent workers from getting time off when they or their families are sick, and to undermine protections from mistreatment in the workplace. This comprehensive reform bill strengthens those rights for workers—the direction we should be moving to make sure working Americans have a chance to provide for their families and thrive.”

“The best way to stand up for hardworking Americans against Donald Trump’s all-out assault on workers’ rights is with an all-out defense of long-standing workplace protections that support good-paying jobs for workers and their families,” Wyden said. “This legislation would build that comprehensive workplace defense by protecting and preserving essential rights to bargain collectively for fair pay and workplace conditions, penalizing corporations trying to squelch worker protections and ensuring unions are treated fairly.”

The legislation is part of the Democrats’ economic agenda, “A Better Deal.” As the income inequality gap reaches the highest levels since the Great Depression, many middle class families are finding it increasingly difficult to achieve basic economic security.

The Democrats’ legislation helps address rising inequality and related challenges in obtaining a quality education, safe housing, sustainable work, and a secure retirement.

The Better Deal legislation comes as the Trump administration and Republican leadership continue their efforts to maximize corporate profits through their tax giveaway to the richest few and largest corporations and the rollback of crucial labor rights designed to protect the American worker.

Giving workers the freedom to negotiate A Better Deal would:

  • Strengthen penalties on predatory corporations that violate workers’ rights, and combat misclassification of workers as supervisors and independent contractors.
  • Strengthen workers’ right to strike for basic workplace improvements, including higher wages and better working conditions.
  • Create a mandatory mediation and arbitration process to ensure corporations and newly formed unions reach a first contract.
  • Ban state laws that undermine worker freedoms to join together and negotiate. 
  • Streamline the National Labor Relation Board’s (NLRB) procedures to secure worker freedoms and effectively prevent violations.
  • Protect the integrity of union elections against coercive captive audience meetings. 
  • Use federal purchasing power and policy to help expand opportunities to negotiate.

See a fact sheet on the legislation here.  See the text of the legislation here.

In addition to Merkley and Wyden, co-sponsors of the Workers’ Freedom to Negotiate Act in the Senate are: Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tina Smith (D-MN), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tom Udall (D-NM), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Chris Coons (D-DE). 

Co-sponsors of the Workers’ Freedom to Negotiate Act in the House are: Reps. Bonamici (OR-1), Boyle (PA-13), Brady (PA-1), Cicilline (RI-1), Chu (CA-27), Cummings (MD-7), Davis (IL-7), DeLauro (CT-3), DeSaulnier (CA-11), Doyle (PA-14), Ellison (MN-5), Espaillat (NY-13), Garamendi (CA-3), Hanabusa (HI-1), Khanna (CA-17), Lowenthal (CA-47), Nadler (NY-10), Napolitano (CA-32), Norcross (NJ-1), Norton (DC), Pallone (NJ-6), Pocan (WI-6), Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Sablan (Mariana Islands), Sanchez (CA-38), Schakowsky (IL-9), Shea-Porter (NH-1), Takano (CA-41), Watson Coleman (NJ-12), and Wilson (FL-24).