The Protecting the Right to Organize Act moved one step closer to being brought to the Senate floor for a vote when Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., declared support for the labor reform bill Monday.
"I am pleased to announce that I am cosponsoring the PRO Act," Manchin said at a National Press Club event on climate change. "Fifty percent of unions fail in their first year of organizing. This legislation will level the playing field."
Unions and other workers’ groups heralded the announcement. West Virginia AFL-CIO President Josh Sword released a statement Monday saying the PRO Act will help "build a better future for West Virginia’s working people."
Opponents of the bill denounced Manchin’s move. Kristen Swearingen, chair of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, said the bill would invade employee privacy and "kill West Virginia jobs, while taking the hard-earned income away from small businesses and employees," Reuters reported. The coalition represents several construction employer groups, including Associated Builders and Contractors and the Associated General Contractors of America, along with manufacturing associations, hotel and restaurant groups and state chambers of commerce.
The PRO Act now has 46 co-sponsors, four short of the 50 that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has indicated he needs before he’ll bring the bill to the floor. Even then, the bill would need 60 votes to surpass a Republican filibuster.
The remaining Democrat and independent holdouts are:
- Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
- Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly.
- Virginia Sen. Mark Warner.
- Maine Sen. Angus King, an Independent who caucuses with Democrats.
Unions are lobbying hard to sway these legislators. In late March, the Hanover, Maryland-based International Union of Painters and Allied Trades made 500,000 calls to the offices of these five senators, James Williams Jr., general vice president at large for IUPAT, told Construction Dive.