Press Releases

Racial Justice, Environmental & Community Groups Applaud House Vote on PRO Act as Boost to Democracy

Feb 7, 2020

Contact: Emily Samsel,, 202-454-4573

Leaders of prominent racial justice, environmental, and community groups that collectively represent millions of Americans applauded the passage yesterday of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) in the House of Representatives.

Nearly 140 organizations had signed onto a letter urging House Representatives to vote in favor of the bill, alongside 60 environmental groups. In a press conference Wednesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi explained this effort was about “stemming the assault that the Republicans are making on the rights of working men and women in our country.” She explained that “we all believe that the middle class is the backbone of our democracy,” also adding “that the middle class has a union label on it.”

Below are statements on today’s vote from the heads of the NAACP, Demos, League of Conservation Voters, MoveOn, and the Center for Popular Democracy praising the bill as a significant opportunity to strengthen both unions and their role in advancing a more representative democracy.

Gene Karpinski, President, League of Conservation Voters said:

“Protecting and strengthening workers’ right to organize is a critical part of restoring power to working people, addressing wage stagnation and income inequality in our country.”

“The PRO Act would help ensure that the jobs we create tackling the climate crisis and protecting communities in harm’s way are good, family-sustaining jobs. We are proud to stand in solidarity with our labor partners in support of this important legislation. Our democracy works best when elected officials are accountable to the people, not polluters – passing the PRO Act is a key step in ensuring our workers continue to be heard.”

Derrick Johnson, President and CEO, NAACP said:

“Civil rights and workers’ rights are intrinsically linked. Unions have brought countless African Americans into the middle class and in the voting booth, making our democracy more representative and our government more accountable to all people.”

“But the special interests behind racially-driven voter suppression and gerrymandering are the same forces seeking to undermine unions’ power to mobilize working and middle-class voters. That’s why we need structural reforms that will unrig our system once and for all. The PRO Act is a major step toward giving workers of all backgrounds the power to fight back against oppression and a bigger voice in our democracy.”

Sabeel Rahman, President, Demos said:

“When working people bridge racial divisions and stand together for their fair share of the wealth they create, their union can be a powerful force for both racial and economic equity. That’s why corporate interests have constantly manipulated racism to turn working people against each other, pushing down wages, undermining solidarity, and weakening workers’ freedom to join together.”

“The evidence is also clear that strong unions boost voter turnout and lead to greater civic engagement by working people of all races and backgrounds. By empowering working people, the PRO Act will be a powerful check on corporate power in both our economy and our democracy.”

Rahna Epting, Executive Director, MoveOn said:

“For years now we’ve seen corporations and big donors push politicians to use an anti-union and anti-democracy playbook to pass policies that only benefit the wealthy. They have been suppressing the vote, pouring unlimited dark money in our elections, and attacking workers’ rights to undercut unions’ ability to turn out voters and make their voices heard.”

“It’s time for political reforms that unrig the system for good and protect unions’ essential role as a check on special interests. The PRO Act is a big win for workers and anyone who believes in economic equality and a representative democracy.”

Jennifer Epps-Addison, Network President and Co-Executive Director, Center for Popular Democracy said: 

“Unions are a critical part of building a democracy where people of color, immigrants, working families, women, and LGBTQ communities thrive together. But attacks from special interests on unions and marginalized people are undermining racial and economic justice in America.”

“Protecting workers’ rights through the PRO Act is essential to empowering workers to organize themselves and their communities. Unions are key mobilizers of people to fight back against corporate interests and make our government more responsive to the interests of all people. Unions are good for our communities and good for our democracy.”

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