Over the past few months, CWA members have worked tirelessly to build support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. All of the emails, calls, and visits with members of Congress are paying off – the House of Representatives is expected to pass the bill on Thursday evening.
CWA's critical role advancing the bill was evident this week on Capitol Hill. Jennifer Womack, who has worked at a Verizon Wireless call center in Irving, Texas, for the last three years and has been organizing with her coworkers to join CWA, spoke at a press briefing hosted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott on the bill. CWA President Chris Shelton and CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens also attended the event.
Womack described how, after she and her coworkers started discussing forming a union at Verizon Wireless, the company began forcing them to attend mandatory anti-union meetings, sometimes pulling workers they suspect may support organizing into those trainings at a moment's notice.
"Those trainings terrified a lot of people," Womack said. "Eventually, I asked our CEO about this at Verizon's shareholder meeting. But after that happened, my work life got even worse. The company isolated me from my co-workers and some people I was close to were afraid to even talk to me. This retaliation makes it very difficult for workers to form a union if we want to.
"That's why I'm so glad that the House is taking up the PRO Act. This bill would put power back in the hands of workers like me to make our own decisions about forming a union without risking our jobs. I'm especially glad that the bill would ban the sort of mandatory anti-union trainings that we faced. It's also really important that the bill imposes real penalties on companies that break the law, since right now it seems like companies can get away with pretty much anything with a slap on the wrist. I believe that everyone should be treated fairly and be able to have a voice on the job. The PRO Act is a great step to help achieve that."
On Thursday morning, Secretary-Treasurer Steffens addressed a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus. Steffens stressed the historic importance of the bill and shared her story of being wrongfully fired after organizing a union at the Contra Costa Times.
The CWA Executive Board has said that if an incumbent member of Congress or a Senator does not vote for the PRO Act, they will not receive an endorsement for reelection from CWA this year.
CWA members have worked tirelessly to build support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, including CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens (top right) and Jennifer Womack (top left).