WASHINGTON--U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla., issued the following statement after the House passed H.R. 2474, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019 (PRO Act):
"I strongly support the goal of the PRO Act, which would amend the National Labor Relations Act and other federal labor laws to extend additional legal protections to union workers. I am a deep believer in the importance of unions. This is personal for me. When my family fled Vietnam and was given refuge in America, my father worked at a power plant and was a member of a union. The union provided invaluable support to him and to our entire family. I’m not sure I would be where I am today were it not for that union.
"As a result of my own family’s experience, I understand—emotionally as much as intellectually—why it’s vital for American workers to have the power to collectively bargain for fairer wages, benefits, and working conditions. That’s why I’ve supported numerous bills in Congress to strengthen the federal laws that protect the right of workers to organize a union and negotiate for better treatment from their employer.
"For example, I am a proud cosponsor of H.R. 3463, the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, and H.R. 1154, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act. These bills promote collective bargaining in the public sector and preempt state laws that unduly restrict collective bargaining by state and local government workers.
"I have also led other efforts in Congress to ensure American workers are treated equitably. I helped introduce—and usher through the U.S. House—H.R. 582, the Raise the Wage Act, which would increase the federal minimum wage until it hits $15 per hour. Neither the current federal minimum wage nor the slightly higher Florida state minimum wage is a living wage. I strongly believe that no American who has the dignity of a full-time job should have the indignity of still being unable to provide for themselves and their families. I think it’s fair to say that H.R. 582 would not have passed the House without my efforts to get more moderate members of the Democratic caucus to vote “yes” when the bill came to the floor. In addition, I helped introduce H.R. 1185, the FAMILY Act, which would provide American workers with the right to paid leave in order to care for a new baby, if they become seriously ill, or if they need to care for a seriously ill spouse, parent, or child.
"With respect to the PRO Act, I’ve listened carefully to all stakeholders, including national and local representatives of different unions within the labor movement. This is a comprehensive bill with many provisions, and I support most of these provisions. I am particularly supportive of the provisions that would make it easier for workers to obtain swift and appropriate justice when their rights under federal labor laws have been violated by employers. I am also supportive of provisions that would make it easier for workers to form a union and then to reach a collective bargaining agreement with their employer.
"At the same time, since the PRO Act’s introduction, I have consistently expressed concerns about the precise wording of two provisions. The first provides a definition of “joint employer.” The second, often called the “ABC test,” establishes a standard for when workers will be classified as “employees” versus “independent contractors.”
"I’m pleased the bill would establish a statutory definition of “joint employer,” rather than having the definition seesaw each time the political make-up of the National Labor Relations Board changes. Such uncertainty is bad for both workers and businesses. However, after careful deliberation, I have concluded that the specific definition of joint employer adopted in the PRO Act does not strike the appropriate balance.
"I also have concerns about the ABC test in the bill, which is too restrictive and could have the unintended consequence of limiting job opportunities for the millions of Americans who seek flexibility in their work schedule. The American economy, and the nature of work, are changing in important ways—and the ABC test in the PRO Act does not sufficiently account for this fact. To be clear, the bill language needs to be modified, not eliminated, but there was no openness to changes on the part of the bill’s proponents.
"Therefore, despite my support for many of the bill’s provisions, I voted against the PRO Act. I know many of you may be disappointed with my vote, but rest assured that my deeply-held belief in the importance and power of unions has not changed."