The PRO Act is the most significant piece of worker empowerment legislation since the New Deal. The proposed bill could level the playing field between employers and labor, making it easier for workers to organize.
Ohio AFL-CIO President Timothy Burga joined the AWF Union Podcast to discuss the PRO Act and what it could do for labor rights. He also discussed the recent political Renaissance for labor ushered in by the Biden Administration; gerrymandering in Ohio as state legislators redraw political district lines; and the potential for voter suppression bills to take root in the Buckeye State.
Empowerment for workers and the right to organize
Burga explained how the PRO Act would level the playing field for workers. Currently, too much gets in the way of free and fair union elections. There is a great deal of employer attempts to stall the efforts of unions to organize in an attempt to run out the clock.
Burga said union membership was strongest in the 1950s, when workers were their strongest. They got a piece of the action and shared in the wealth they were creating. When workers thrive, the middle class expands and small businesses do well.
Will political gerrymandering continue in Ohio?
Burga also discussed political gerrymandering in Ohio, as politicians prepare to redraw district lines. Ohio lost one U.S. House seat due to depopulation, as it will go from 16 congressional districts down to 15. Gov. Mike Dewine has called for a meeting of the Ohio Redistricting Commission to lay out the process for redistricting this Friday.
Though Republicans currently have a majority, voters in 2015 and 2018 voted for a more transparent and fair process of redrawing district lines. When Republicans redrew the map 10 years ago, the courts ruled the process unconstitutional, but it was too late in the process to change the results.
Burga hopes the upcoming redistricting process is more open, as the criteria clearly spells out that the slicing and dicing of communities and subdivisions for political gain cannot continue. He said ultimately it may be left to the courts to decide.
Burga also discussed a new voter suppression bill Republicans may introduce in Ohio following the summer recess. The measure is similar to anti-voting legislation passed in Texas and Georgia.