Blog Post

Sherrod Brown – a champion for working families!

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has consistently been a pro-worker champion in the United States Senate, with a 100% lifetime rating from the AFL-CIO for standing up for working people, unions, and our rights to organize and go on strike.

A frequent visitor of union picket lines, Sen. Brown proudly wears his “Dignity of Work” pin every day, showing his lifelong support for the rights of working people. 

“Every worker should have a right to organize and have a voice in their workplace, and that is why I have spent my career fighting for the dignity of work.”

–Sen. Sherrod Brown

Protecting workers’ rights

Sen. Brown is a lead sponsor of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (the PRO Act), which strengthens worker power by protecting our rights to organize, bargain and go on strike. 

“For so many Americans, their hard work doesn’t pay off like it should,” said Brown. “A union card means higher wages, better benefits and working conditions, and more control over your schedule. The PRO Act will finally level the playing field between workers and corporations in union organizing, so that workers can band together to advocate for themselves and have a voice on the job.”

The PRO Act, a top legislative priority for the labor movement, takes a comprehensive approach to restoring the balance of power in the workplace by blocking intimidating union-busting tactics, speeding union elections, providing new protections against employer retaliation, and helping newly organized workers secure a first contract faster. 

Brown has an extensive record of weighing in on behalf of workers organizing for a voice on the job. A few highlights:

  • Early this year, Sen. Brown joined 32 of his colleagues in a letter urging non-unionized automakers to respect the rights of workers at their manufacturing plants as they organize with United Auto Workers’ (UAW). 
  • In 2022, Brown announced his support for Congressional staff organizing, and last summer Brown introduced a resolution to secure legal protections for U.S. Senate staff to organize and collectively bargain.
  • In 2023, Sen. Brown co-sponsored the “No Tax Breaks for Union Busting” bill, which bars employers from writing off the expense of union-busting consultants and other efforts to block employees from organizing. 
  • In his role as Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Brown has repeatedly grilled megabank CEOs at hearings and in letters, demanding that they remain neutral in union organizing efforts by their employees.
  • Brown was the leading voice in the Senate in helping secure a landmark union organizing neutrality agreement with Microsoft and CWA.
  • In 2019 Brown urged Boeing to sign a card-check neutrality agreement for its manufacturing workers in South Carolina.  “Union representation would facilitate a productive exchange between workers and management and would ensure workers are protected from retaliation when they raise concerns about the production process,” Brown wrote.

Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act

Sen. Brown is an original co-sponsor of the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act of 2024, introduced in May in the U.S. Senate, which extends federal legal protections to ensure that all public workers have the right to organize, bargain collectively and engage in concerted activities.

Standing with striking workers — literally

When workers make the difficult decision to strike for better working conditions, Sen. Brown doesn’t hesitate to stand in solidarity with them. Among his many appearances on union picket lines:

Protecting the healthcare benefits of striking workers

Employers can’t legally fire workers who take part in a protected strike, but they can and do threaten to cut workers’ health care as soon as they hit picket lines. Sen. Brown introduced the Striking and Locked Out Workers Health Care Protection Act to prevent employers from retaliating against striking or locked out workers by cutting off healthcare benefits. The legislation creates a separate Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) category covering this employer behavior. 

Protecting our pensions

Millions of workers depend on retirement benefits that are held in multi-employer pension plans – many of which had been deemed at risk of failure by 30-year-old accounting standards imposed by the federal government. In 2021, Senator Brown secured passage of his bill, the Butch Lewis Act, as part of the American Rescue Plan

Senator Brown’s bill saved the pension benefits of more than a million union workers and retirees – including 400,000 Teamsters throughout the Midwest – by ensuring the the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation will keep multi-employer pensions solvent for three decades.

Securing and protecting jobs

Sen. Brown works to ensure that major federal legislation incorporates the needs of working families, including the right to unions and good wages.

  • Sen. Brown voted for the American Rescue Plan that saved the jobs of public employees and airline workers, and rescued the multiemployer pension plans covering more than a million union members and retirees.  
  • Sen. Brown voted for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which supported millions of jobs in construction and manufacturing , with strong protections for union rights and prevailing wages. The act also strengthened “Buy America” rules.
  • Sen. Brown voted for the Inflation Reduction Act, which will create hundreds of thousands of American manufacturing jobs, in addition to reducing prescription drug prices for seniors and lowering energy costs. 
  • Sen. Brown was instrumental in passage of the CHIPS Act, which grows U.S. supply chains for semiconductor chip manufacturing and ensures that the two new semiconductor plants being built in Ohio with federal money will employ union-trained workers.

Protecting Workers from Offshoring 

Senator Brown has been a longtime leader in efforts to prevent the offshoring of American jobs.

As part of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Sen. Brown was able to secure passage of his Build America, Buy America Act, which strengthens Buy America rules and ensures that they apply to all taxpayer-funded infrastructure and public works projects.

As a Senate Finance Committee member, Sen. Brown has advocated on behalf of workers and pushed for a tax code that supports American manufacturing and ends tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas.

“Our plan is simple: Corporations should pay their fair share, just like Ohio families do, and they shouldn’t get a tax break for shipping workers’ jobs overseas,” said Brown. “We’re going to reward companies that create jobs and invest in America.”

Sen. Brown was a lead sponsor of the Outsourcing Accountability Act that would require companies to publish detailed reports of where their workers are based, including by state and country. The bill is supported by the United Steelworkers and the United Auto Workers.

Sen. Brown introduced the Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, which would block government grants for companies that move call centers overseas. Brown worked alongside call center workers to call for action on this legislation to bring call center jobs back to the U.S.

And Sen. Brown has consistently fought against bad trade deals, including the Trans Pacific Partnership, whether proposed by Democratic or Republican Presidents.

Sen. Brown also has a strong history of standing with workers fighting to save their own jobs from offshoring:

  • After the layoff of 300 Navistar workers in Springfield, Sen. Brown wrote to Navistar CEO, demanding answers about US Postal Service truck manufacturing that moved to Mexico.
  • Sen. Brown stood in solidarity with General Electric (GE)-Savant workers by working with them to put pressure on the company to keep jobs in Ohio. When GE-Savant announced plans to send production overseas, costing nearly 100 workers their jobs, he sent a letter to GE-Savant CEO Robert Madonna, asking the company to work with the city and the IUE-CWA union local to keep jobs and production in Bucyrus. He also wrote Walmart leadership urging the company to support local efforts to save high-efficiency lighting jobs at the GE-Savant plant. 
  • Sen. Brown wrote to AT&T urging them to make explicit contractual guarantees to increase the number of U.S.-based call center jobs. 
  • After the layoff of approximately 300 workers from the Navistar plant in Springfield, Brown wrote the Navistar CEO demanding  answers about why production of postal service trucks had been moved from Springfield to a plant in Mexico.
  • At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. was faced with the grave threat of a shortage of ventilators for sick patients. Sen. Brown led efforts to ensure frontline healthcare workers had the supplies that they needed to ensure the safety of their community. He urged GE to work with highly skilled manufacturing workers in Ohio to produce ventilators and help with the shortage. 

One Fair Wage

Sen. Brown understands that a fair day’s work deserves fair wages. He was a lead sponsor of the Raise the Wage Act of 2021, aimed at raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. More recently he has advocated aiming for a $17 hourly minimum.

“For too many people in this country, hard work isn’t paying off,” said Brown. “While costs for Ohio families are rising and workers are more productive than ever, wages aren’t keeping up. It’s long past time that we recognize the value of work in our country.”

Tax fairness for working families

Sen. Brown is a lead co-sponsor of the “Tax Fairness for Workers Act,” which allows workers to deduct unreimbursed business expenses such as uniforms and equipment, business travel costs and job search expenses. The act restores workers’ ability deduct union dues from their taxes “above the line” – meaning workers can benefit even if they don’t otherwize itemize deductions.

Cracking down on wage theft

Sen. Brown introduced the Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act of 2023, which increases penalties for employers who illegally withhold wages, and provides new tools for workers to recover stolen wages.

“It’s simple: If you put in the work, you should get paid for it,” Brown says