In These Times: "The Filibuster is a Labor Issue"

We can't pass the PRO Act to protect workers as long as the filibuster exists

In an article that I've been meaning to share for some time, labor reporter Hamilton Nolan wrote in March about how protecting labor organizing rights in the U.S. is directly tied to the need to eliminate the filibuster, the procedural artifact of the U.S. Senate that allows a minority to fully blockade nearly all legislation. Nolan notes that the PRO Act, which would provide a major pro-worker upgrade to the woefully-insufficient and increasingly out of date National Labor Relations Act of the 1930's, has precisely zero chance of passing unless and until the Democratic Party eliminates the filibuster.

For a primer on the regressive paralysis effect of the filibuster, one source of background reading is Adam Jentleson's Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy, just released in January of this year. From the publisher's information page:

Every major decision governing our diverse, majority-female, and increasingly liberal country bears the stamp of the United States Senate, an institution controlled by people who are almost exclusively white, overwhelmingly male, and disproportionately conservative. Although they do not represent a majority of Americans—and will not for the foreseeable future—today’s Republican senators possess the power to block most legislation...

... For much of its history, the filibuster was used primarily to prevent civil rights legislation from becoming law. But more recently, Republicans have refined it into a tool for imposing their will on all issues, wielding it to thwart an increasingly progressive American majority represented by Barack Obama’s agenda and appointees. Under Donald Trump, McConnell merged the filibuster with rigid leadership structures initially forged by Lyndon Johnson, in the process surrendering the Senate’s independence and centrality... The result is a failed institution...

Some extracts from the In These Times article appear below.
- Bruce

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https://inthesetimes.com/article/filibuster-labor-union-pro-act-senate
The Filibuster Is a Labor Issue
The PRO Act will not pass unless we end the filibuster. Those two things are a package deal.
Hamilton Nolan, March 10, 2021

On Tuesday, the House passed the PRO Act, the sweeping labor law reform bill that would re-energize unions in America. If it were to become law. Which it will not, as long as the filibuster remains in place in the Senate. The situation now is very simple: destroying the filibuster is a labor issue. 

The Senate, an anti-democratic institution by design that exists to squash the dreams of the majority of our nation’s citizens, is evenly split, controlled by Democrats by only a single vote. It currently takes 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, meaning that ten Republicans would have to join all of the Democrats to push through the PRO Act. There is zero chance of this happening...

The PRO Act is not bullshit — it is serious, historic, pro-worker reform. That is something that is not now and will never be an issue that a large chunk of Republican senators will flock to support...

The filibuster is a barrier to progress in worker rights, just like union-busting law firms and greedy bosses are...

Claiming to support the PRO Act, or a strong green infrastructure bill, or the voting rights bill, without supporting the end of the filibuster, is like claiming to support going into a building but refusing to open the door...

Ending the filibuster is a labor fight. It is an environmental fight. It is a healthcare fight. It is equivalent to the substance of all these issues themselves, because it is the thing that enables them to happen. There is a coalition to be built on this issue — of every progressive in America who wants tangible gains in the next two years — that is broad and powerful enough to push the Democratic Party where it needs to go...

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