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Wisconsin Workers Speak Out In Favor Of Federal PRO Act

Wisconsin workers held an event to support the passing of the federal Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.
Wisconsin workers held an event to support the passing of the federal Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.

On Tuesday, local Wisconsin workers spoke out in support of the Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. The PRO Act is a federal bill before the U.S. Senate that would provide protections for workers trying to unionize.

Patrick Zastrow is one worker organizing for a union at Colectivo Coffee. He said it wasn’t until he had to work during the pandemic that he realized the importance of all workers having a voice and representation.

"Within the first week of being back, I realized that if we the workers did not take the initiative to protect ourselves, no one was going to be stepping in to help us," said Zastrow.

He felt management was turning a blind eye to the problems workers were facing on the job. In response to unionization efforts, Colectivo has contracted the Labor Relations Institute (LRI), a consulting firm that specializes in preventing unions. According to Zastrow, Collectivo employees have been mandated to sit through meetings with LRI.

"In the fall when we were in the process of signing our authorization cards, and again this winter after we had submitted our petition for representation, these meetings used fear and intimidation tactics on workers under the guise of just the facts to try and convince us that we did not need a union," he said.

Company-sponsored meetings, with mandatory attendance, are often used to dissuade workers from union organizing. If the PRO Act were passed, such meetings would be illegal by forbidding employer interference and influence in union votes.

Colectivo says it is not anti-union, saying in a statement: "We want to be clear that as people with progressive values, we are not against the right to organize, and we are not anti-union."

However, they criticized the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), saying, “This union will not solve the challenges of this company and will not make your Colectivo experience better."

Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin introduced the PRO Act back in February. The legislation has bipartisan support but the bill is unlikely to pass, given the lack of GOP support in the Senate. Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is expected to vote against the PRO Act.

Angelina Mosher Salazar joined WUWM in 2018 as the Eric Von Broadcast Fellow. She was then a reporter with the station until 2021.
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