Press Release

Congressional Democrats Join National Labor Leaders in Emergency Push for Fully Funding U.S. Labor Rights Agency

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressional progressives joined with multiple International Union leaders representing the Worker Power Coalition, a labor alliance of 24 million workers across the country, in a dramatic final push to enforce full funding for the federal agency tasked with overseeing union elections and investigating illegal and retaliatory labor violations, the National Labor Relations Board.

The NLRB is the agency tasked with overseeing union elections and investigating illegal anti-union activity, but its funding has been frozen for almost a decade – a crisis having ripple effects across every sector of work in the country. The number of federal staff who oversee union elections and investigate abuses has been slashed by 50% since 2002, union petitions are up 53% this year over the year prior – and charges of Unfair Labor Practices were up 18% in that same period.

IUPAT International Union President Jimmy Williams and CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens, co-Chairs of the Worker Power coalition, a national advocacy coalition with member organizations spanning labor, environmental, business, and community organizations, joined 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) steps from the House of Representatives in Washington, laying a marker in the sand as Congress rushes to pass a government funding package before the holidays. Also this week, the Worker Power Coalition launched a new weeklong digital buy targeting Congressional lawmakers, with ads running on Facebook, Google, Instagram, and LinkedIn, as part of a larger national campaign to end the funding freeze for the NLRB. 

IUPAT General President and Worker Power Coalition Co-Chair Jimmy Williams: “Our country is experiencing a moment of mass worker organizing – 71% of Americans approve of unions and tens of millions of Americans would join a union right now if they could without retaliation or harassment. 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. But the drastic under funding of the NLRB mean that many of these workers will face delays in getting a union vote or receiving justice for illegal retaliation or termination from their employers – which is why Congress must respond to this crisis to stand with workers and fully fund the NLRB with this urgent budget bill.”

CWA Secretary-Treasurer and Worker Power Coalition Co-Chair Sara Steffens; “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, the fact is that far too many workers are being fired for exercising their right to form a union and demand the better working conditions they have earned. The NLRB must receive the full funding it needs to hold these billionaire CEOs accountable. Every Democrat who made campaign promises to stand with workers needs to put action behind their words by ending the funding freeze and giving the NLRB the resources it needs to level the playing field for workers. The Worker Power Coalition and the 24 million workers we represent are watching, and if Democrats fail to stand with workers now, we will remember when we go to the ballot box in 2024.”

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14): “We have to attack this problem with urgency. We can’t count on a Republican congress to prioritize labor. We have to pass this now.”

U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17): “The NLRB is critical for protecting the rights of American workers and yet it hasn’t seen an increase in funding since 2014. Congress must step up and provide NLRB with the resources it needs to protect labor rights in this country.”

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-05): “From Starbucks workers in Minneapolis to Amazon workers in New York, we are seeing a massive rise in organizing and worker power at levels not seen in decades. We are also seeing big corporations and their CEOs routinely violate the law to bust unions and cling to their profits. It is the NLRB that holds these billionaire CEOs accountable when they try to stand in the way of worker power. But they are under threat from Republicans who want to weaken them and undermine their work. Despite the NLRB’s vital mission, the Board has received the same flat funding for nine consecutive years now—effectively a 25 percent cut since 2010. We will not stop fighting to ensure that they have the resources they need to hold these union busters accountable and make sure everyone’s basic rights to organize and collectively bargain are protected.” 

U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (NY-16): “Fully funding the National Labor Relations Board should be a non-negotiable for Democrats in this year’s budget. This is a critical moment for Democrats to live up to our values and stand in solidarity with workers across the country. The NLRB is vital to protecting workers from unlawful and inhumane unfair labor practices by big corporations who care more about padding their billions in profits than about protecting basic human rights and treating their workers with dignity. At a time when we are seeing a historic surge both in organizing and in despicable union-busting activities, we cannot allow full funding for the NLRB to be deprioritized. If we can pass hundreds of billions of dollars for the Defense budget, the very least we can do is adequately fund the NLRB to protect the workers whose labor forms the backbone of our economy. We must hold big corporations and billionaires accountable for trampling over workers’ rights.”

U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ-01): “America’s workers and businesses are stronger with a fully-funded National Labor Relations Board. Flat budgets have seen the NLRB crippled by inflation and rising costs, putting its ability to fully implement its mission to protect workers’ rights at risk. Continuing to neglect this critical independent federal agency is a disservice to the hardworking women and men who keep our nation running at every level and every sector of our economy.”
U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (MI-09): “What better Christmas present could the worst actors ask for than an understaffed NLRB that simply doesn’t have the people power to oversee prompt elections or investigate firings and other forms of intimidation and unfair dealings? Congress must push for full funding for the NLRB—now!”


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.