June 15, 2018

Duckworth, Durbin Introduce Legislation to Provide A Better Deal for American Workers

Workers’ Freedom to Negotiate Act would strengthen collective bargaining rights & protect Illinoisans from workplace abuses


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – As working families across the country struggle to achieve basic economic security and income inequality reaches its highest level since the Great Depression, U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined a number of Senate and House Democrats in introducing legislation to provide a better deal for American workers and strengthen workers’ rights to collectively bargain. The Workers’ Freedom to Negotiate Act contains much-needed reforms that would make it easier for workers to form a union and collectively bargain for better pay and safer working conditions. The legislation is a stark contrast to efforts by the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans to maximize corporate profits, cut taxes for the wealthy and roll back crucial labor rights designed to protect American workers.

“Corporate profits are soaring but across our state, too many Illinoisans are being left behind. We need to ensure every American has the chance to work a good-paying job that allows them to support their families and save for a secure retirement,” said Duckworth. “This legislation will help Illinoisans do just that by making sure every person who wants to organize a union and collectively bargain for better wages and safer workplace conditions has the opportunity to do so.”

“Workers’ rights have come under attack by Republicans in Congress to stack the deck in favor of big corporations and special interests. Middle class families feel that the system isn’t working for them anymore,” Durbin said. “I’m proud to join the Democratic caucus in introducing this bill that will restore and protect the foundational labor rights this country was built on - like fair wages and access to health care. American workers are the best in the world and they deserve to know we have their backs.”

The legislation would:

   • Strengthen workers’ rights to organize for basic workplace improvements, including higher wages and better working conditions.
   • Authorize meaningful penalties on corporations that violate workers’ rights to organize a union through intimidation and retaliation.
   • Closes loopholes in federal labor laws that allow employers to misclassify their employees as supervisors and independent contractors.
   • Allow workers to seek justice in court when employers unlawfully interfere with their rights to form a union or are retaliated against.
   • Protect integrity of union elections by preventing employers from forcing workers to attend captive audience meetings
   • Empower the National Labor Relations Board to enforce its own rulings like other federal agencies instead of waiting for a decision from the Court of Appeals.
   • Safeguards workers’ access to justice by clarifying employers cannot force employees to waive their right to class-action litigation.
   • Crette mandatory mediation and arbitration process to ensure corporations and newly formed unions reach a first contract.
   • Use federal purchasing power to protect workers by requiring federal contractors to disclose any labor law violations over previous three years.

A fact sheet on the legislation is available here. The text of the legislation is available here.

In addition to Duckworth and Durbin, the legislation was introduced by Senators 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), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), 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), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Chris Coons (D-DE).