Congress Must Take Action to Protect Workers

The nation watched earlier this year as heroic warehouse workers at the Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama, made history.

Despite intense pressure, intimidation and bullying by one of the largest corporations in the world, they fought to reclaim their fair share of power and form a union. They spoke out about an experience familiar to so many working people—the stress of being overworked, underpaid, and afraid for the future.

Given the plans for a massive new Amazon fulfillment center in Woodburn, it is important we remember their courage—and the outrageous response from Amazon: inundating workers with egregious misinformation and anti-union propaganda; installing a mailbox on the premises to patrol the casting of ballots; and even changing traffic signals to prevent organizing at intersections.

As Oregon's U.S. senator and president of the Oregon AFL-CIO, the state's largest federation of unions, we have long advocated for the rights of workers to collectively bargain free from employer interference. Yet, union-busters, big business and woefully outdated labor laws continue to undermine workers' rights.

The massively uneven playing field in Bessemer illustrates the urgent need to improve our labor laws. That's why we're pushing to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act—the most significant worker empowerment legislation since the Great Depression. It would dramatically increase penalties for employers that violate workers' rights, and so much more.

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