September 06, 2023

Senator Warren and Representative Sherman Reintroduce the Nationwide Right to Unionize Act, Repealing “Right-to-Work” Laws and Empowering Workers to Fight for Better Wages, Conditions

Bill Text (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – Today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Representative Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) reintroduced the Nationwide Right to Unionize Act, legislation that would support the right to unionize by prohibiting states from banning union security, or “fair share”, agreements through “right-to-work” laws. 

Twenty-eight states have enacted “right-to-work” laws that prevent unions from collecting dues from non-union members who are covered under a union-negotiated contract. These laws make it more difficult for workers to form unions and fight for higher wages and better working conditions in the states that adopt them, resulting in a 5% decrease in unionization rates and a decrease in average wages for all full-time workers of about $11,000 a year, according to a report released by Rep. Sherman’s office.  

The bill was originally introduced in 2017 as the Protecting Workers and Improving Labor Standards Act, and reintroduced in 2020 and 2022 as the Nationwide Right to Unionize Act. This legislation would invalidate state “right-to-work” laws, shoring up unions financially and strengthening their ability to organize new workplaces. A similar proposal is included in the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which the lawmakers support and would protect American workers’ right to organize and negotiate for better wages and working conditions. A record 13.5 million jobs have been created under President Biden, including nearly 800,000 manufacturing jobs, thanks to significant investments championed by the President and Congressional Democrats, who continue to fight for good-paying, family-sustaining, union jobs.

“Republicans brand their so-called ‘right-to-work’ laws under the guise of personal choice and freedom, when in reality, these laws only weaken unions and strip workers of their power,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “Strong unions mean higher wages, better benefits, and real freedom for workers – they are the foundation of a thriving economy that works from the bottom-up and middle-out, and we’ll keep fighting to protect the right to unionize.” 

“‘Right-to-work’ laws are really ‘right to work for less’ laws – they’re union-busting and hurt workers, plain and simple,” said Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Calif). “That’s why I have joined with Senator Elizabeth Warren in re-introducing the Nationwide Right to Unionize Act that would eliminate so-called ‘right-to-work’ laws and protect the right to unionize. Senator Warren and I have been working on this legislation for years, and I look forward to working with the Senator and my colleagues to pass this vital bill for working families into law.”

This legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Duckworth (D-Ill.), Padilla (D-Calif.), Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Booker (D-N.J.), Fetterman (D-Pa.), Markey (D-Mass.), Merkley (D-Ore.), Sanders (I-Vt.), Welch (D-Vt.), Smith (D-Minn.), Stabenow (D-Mich.), Cardin (D-Md.), Brown (D-Ohio), Hirono (D-Hawai’i), Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Representatives Lynch (D-Mass.), Norton (D-DC), Garamendi (D-Calif.), Swalwell (D-Calif.), Panetta (D-Calif.), Peters (D-Calif.), Sanchez (D.-Calif), Speier (D-Calif.), Brownley (D-Calif.), Moulton (D-Mass.), McGovern (D-Mass.), Clark (D-Mass.), Raskin (D-Md.), Boyle (D-Pa.), Kildee (D-Mich.), Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Jayapal (D-Wash.). 

The bill has received support from the following advocacy and expert organizations: The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), International Brotherhood of Teamsters, United Steelworkers, Transport Workers Union of America, International Union of Operating Engineers, Communications Workers of America Union, Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, International Association of Machinists, United Food & Commercial Workers Union, and Aerospace Workers, Economic Policy Institute, Worker Power Coalition, and National Employment Law Project. 

Senator Warren has been an outspoken advocate for union workers’ rights and has fought to protect workers, the economy, and hardworking families:

  • On March 17, 2023, Senators Warren and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) sent a letter to Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John C. Williams and Sodexo Group CEO Sophie Bellon to express support for the food service workers of UNITE HERE Local 100 as they began contract negotiations..
  • On January 5, 2023, Senators Warren and Representative Cori Bush (D-Mo.) wrote to the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division in support of their October proposed rule on employee status which would help reclassify potentially thousands of misclassified workers.
  • On October 5, 2022 Senators Warren, Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) blasted Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz for the company’s union-busting campaign, including its ongoing and illegal weaponization of benefits against unionizing workers. 
  • On September 8, 2022, Senator Warren and Representative Sherman reintroduced the Nationwide Right to Unionize Act, legislation that would support the right to unionize by prohibiting states from banning union security agreements through “right-to-work” laws. 
  • On June 16, 2022 Senators Warren and Markey and Representative Jesús G. “Chuy'' García (D-Ill.) introduced the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act, legislation that would provide airport workers with the pay, benefits, and labor standards they deserve.
  • On June 2, 2022 Senators Warren, Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Bernie Sanders and Representatives Bush and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) wrote to Amazon’s President and CEO asking for  answers about the company’s proposed worker chat application, which reportedly would ban workers from using certain words and phrases, restricting their ability to discuss their working conditions and basic legal rights, including unionization.
  • On May 11, 2022, Senator Warren and Representatives Bush and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez  wrote Amazon’s Executive Chairman, Jeff Bezos blasting the company for its failure to answer their questions about policies that led to the collapse of an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, which resulted in the death of six workers. 
  • On February 10, 2022, Senator Warren and Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Katie Porter (D-Calif.) announced the introduction of the Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights Act, legislation to strengthen protections for part-time workers and allow them to better balance their work schedules with personal and family needs.