The PRO Act has got Republicans in Congress all wound up. Texas workers would benefit from this bill, so why are Republicans against it?
The PRO Act, or the Protect the Right to Organize Act, was debated in the House this week and Texas Republicans posted nonsense on social media. Simply put, this bill expands various labor protections related to employees’ rights to organize and collectively bargain in the workplace. Unions. It’s about Unions. Before we get into history and statistics, it’s important to know how the right is framing this argument.
Our nemeses over at Fox published an article a few days ago titled, “PRO Act gains socialist support: The Democratic bill that would crush right-to-work laws.”
Texas is an at-will employment and a right-to-work state.
Workers in Texas have very few rights. At-will employment laws say that an employer can fire you at any time, for any reason, just not an illegal reason. Because of this, very few Texans have wrongful termination rights.
Often, workers in Texas are fired for illegal reasons, yet the employer uses at-will employment to cover it up. The employer might say the worker was late, refused to relocate, or a personality dispute.
Texas’ right-to-work laws state that a company cannot force an employee to join a union or pay union dues if he chooses not to.
However, unionization raises wages for both union and non-union workers. Right-to-work states have lower wages than other states. The reason for this is because right-to-work laws weaken unions and union bargaining power. In places where unions are strong, they set standards for entire industries and occupations. As an industry becomes more unionized, nonunion employers pay more to retain qualified workers, and norms of higher pay and better conditions become standard.
Historically, in right-to-work states, women and people of color have a bigger wage gap than their white, male counterparts.
The truth about Texas.
While the national poverty rate is 10.6%, the poverty rate in Texas is 14%. Worse, 9% of Texans fall below the extreme-poverty rate, 14% of Texans experience food insecurities, and 21% of children live in households below the poverty line.
Almost 24% of all Texas jobs are low-wage jobs.
Receiving government benefits in Texas is directly related to the poverty line. Texas has even come to grips with the poverty line being unrealistically low, which is why they have made their thresholds for assistance slightly higher than the poverty line. For instance, a person can have an income of up to 130% of the poverty threshold to receive Chips. However, programs like Medicaid and food stamps are often out of reach for many Texans, which has led to food insecurity for many.
When the cost of living in Texas is broken down to an hourly wage, there isn’t one county in Texas where a living wage is below $10 per hour. The cost of living in urban areas is between $15 to $16 per hour. The average living wage in Texas is $14.66 per hour.
The minimum wage in Texas is $7.25.
Right-to-work laws tilt the balance toward big corporations and further rig the system at the expense of working families. These laws make it harder for working people to form unions and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions.
Only 4.9% of Texas workers are unionized, which puts us in 45th place for union participation. Is that why we are in 4th place for workers who make minimum wage? Or 16th place for people living in poverty? Or the reason why Texas has more uninsured people than any other state?
In the late 70s, CEOs made 35x the worker. Today, CEOs make up to 400x the worker.
Why are Republicans anti-union?
Republicans have historically favored businessmen and companies, believing that creating wealth at the top will lift everyone. Trickle-down economics or Reaganomics. Republicans still push the trickle-down theory, even though countless studies have shown that trickle-down doesn’t work and only makes the rich, richer.
Unions are a threat to corporate control. Without the right to organize, workers are isolated and subjected to whatever their bosses see fit.
The GOP would like nothing better than to turn the poor into a slave class they can use and throw away. They don’t care about helping the poor and the middle class, they only want to do whatever they can to make their bank accounts bigger than they were the day before.
Unions not only increase wages and benefits but also foster safer working conditions.
Even though OSHA says Texans have the right to safe working conditions because Texas is an at-will employment state, speaking out against unsafe working conditions could get a worker fired.
Work-related deaths and injuries are highest in right-to-work states.
The PRO Act has passed the House and is on the way to the Senate.
The PRO Act will stop employers from firing employees if they strike, it will allow class-action lawsuits by employees, it will stop employers from forcing workers to attend anti-union meetings, and it will hold companies financially responsible for violating these.
For workers, unions are essential to building working-class solidarity and the collective power to make demands for better pay and safer working conditions.
The PRO Act will strengthen unions, build the power of the working class to organize, and allow workers to take employers to court when they violate worker’s rights. Much of America’s economic crisis is due to our poor working conditions.
The PRO Act is a civil rights act, and it puts more control back in the hands of workers. It’s important that we support the PRO Act. Contact Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and urge them to support this. Yes, they are complete turds, and they likely will vote against it. However, it’s important that they know Texans support it.