And getting get labor law reform through the House of Representatives
|Rachel Cohen||Dec 5|| 1|
Happy December! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.
I have two new stories to share this week.
The first is in The Intercept, and it looks at a transformative bill to reform labor law in the U.S, that’s been sitting quietly on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk for two months, with no sign of when she might bring it to a full vote. (For those not steeped in confusing Congress jargon, once a bill passes its committee—in this case, the House Labor Committee—then only the House Speaker can move it on to the next stage of the legislative process.) Pelosi’s slowness in moving this bill forward has been frustrating to unions and labor allies, as there is already enough support for its passage, and because it’s a top political priority for a key Democratic constituency going into 2020.
The bill—called the Protecting the Right to Organize Act—or the PRO Act, would be the biggest rewrite of labor law in decades. It would eliminate right-to-work laws, impose new penalties on employers who retaliate against union organizing, crack down on worker misclassification, and establish new rules so that employers cannot delay negotiating collective bargaining contracts. It already has 215 Democratic co-sponsors, and that doesn’t even include people like Pelosi and Majority Whip James Clyburn, who don’t co-sponsor bills but would surely vote for this.
Meanwhile, Pelosi and about a dozen other Democrats have been very focused on finalizing a trade deal by the end of the year, despite organized labor’s concerns that the proposed deal may lack the enforcement mechanisms necessary to ensure it actually is a good agreement for workers.
Jamelle Bouie, a New York Times op-ed columnist, actually published an entire column today expanding on some of the ideas in my piece, and he linked directly to my story. So that was very exciting, and you can read his column here.
I also published a new piece in The American Prospect about a landmark bill set to pass in Baltimore around water affordability. I learned a lot reporting this story about the ways in which water bills have grown so unaffordable across the nation due to deteriorating infrastructure and declining federal investment. The result has been that local water rates keep rising, in order to finance necessary repairs and upgrades, but household incomes have not been rising as fast, which means more people are having their water shutoff, going into fiscal strain, or into flat-out water debt.
In Baltimore advocates and lawmakers have worked to craft a bill meant to help address some of this problem. It would work by capping water bills for low-income residents, making it easier for them to get out of water debt, and making it easier for all consumers to challenge the myriad billing problems residents regularly face. It’s an exciting bill, and leaders in Chicago and Detroit are now considering similar local measures. On the federal level, there’s also a bill dedicated to upgrading the nation’s water infrastructure, though it has little chance of passage under this administration.
Thanks for reading and for supporting this journalism.