Funding boost will help avert staffing crisis and bolster corporate oversight to strengthen worker protections amid historic union wave at companies like Starbucks, Amazon
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Worker Power Coalition, a labor alliance with 24 million workers, praised the new omnibus spending bill just released by Congress, for boosting funding for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). WPC leaders have been calling for the funding increase for months, most recently in a digital ad campaign targeting Congress and press conference last week with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other lawmakers. Worker Power Coalition leaders welcomed the $25 million increase to the NLRB budget – the first funding boost in nearly 10 years – and called it long overdue after a funding freeze devastated the agency’s ability to do its job and enforce labor laws broken by giant corporations.
As Starbucks and Amazon union campaigns have sparked a national wave of worker activism with new union elections up 58 percent in just the first half of 2022, the NLRB’s staff who oversee union elections and investigate abuses has been slashed by 30% since 2010 and 50% since 2002. And with CEOs spending $340 million a year on union-busting tactics to intimidate and silence workers seeking to form unions, the NLRB funding freeze has made it impossible for the agency to do its job and enforce full accountability for employers engaged in illegal suppression of worker rights.
CWA Secretary-Treasurer and Worker Power Coalition Co-Chair Sara Steffens; “Congress is finally ending the funding freeze for the National Labor Relations Board. As someone who was fired for union organizing, I know firsthand how dangerous it is to leave union-busting CEOs unchecked. Whether it’s Starbucks workers in Memphis, an Amazon warehouse worker in New York, or a Verizon retail worker in Seattle, far too many workers are being fired for exercising their right to form a union. With this urgently-needed budget boost, the NLRB can continue to enforce the law when corporations try to stop workers from joining together to improve their working conditions. We will continue to fight until the NLRB has the resources and changes to our labor laws it needs to truly hold billionaire CEOs accountable when they violate their workers’ rights. We urge lawmakers to swiftly pass this budget bill.”
IUPAT General President and Worker Power Coalition Co-Chair Jimmy Williams: “Today’s funding boost for the NLRB is long overdue. Workers across the construction industry report widespread harassment, intimidation, and bullying from bosses when they try to simply exercise their rights at work as guaranteed by law. For too long, the NLRB’s underfunding resulted in workers facing delays in getting a union vote or receiving justice for illegal retaliation or termination by employers. This is a critical step and we urge lawmakers to rush this budget to President Biden’s desk, and to recognize that much more must still be done to respond to this crisis and protect workers’ rights.”
The NLRB funding boost in the omnibus comes just days after Worker Power Coalition leaders called for action in a press conference with U.S. Reps. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), and Andy Levin (MI-09). As part of its national campaign to end the funding freeze for the NLRB, the Worker Power Coalition also launched a ten-day digital ad campaign targeting Congressional lawmakers on Facebook, Google, and Instagram.
Americans strongly back the right of workers to form a union, with a new 2022 poll showing 71 percent support labor unions, and a strong majority of workers support organizing a union at their own workplace, including 46 percent of Republicans.
The Worker Power Coalition represents 24 million workers across the country and unites labor unions, grassroots organizations, businesses, worker advocates, think tanks, environmental activists, and more with the goal of strengthening labor laws, including passing the PRO Act to empower workers, strengthen their workplace protections, and increase their ability to use their voices collectively. Learn more at PassThePROAct.Org.