Wednesday Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-03) stopped by Teamsters Local 104 in Tucson to speak with union members about some of the issues they’re hoping he addresses in Congress.

Gallego talked with attendees about the PRO ActH.R. 20, the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize Actwhich he says would make it easier for workers to organize and engage in collective bargaining should they choose.

Introduced in Congress earlier this year, the bill proposes amendments to the National Labor Relations Act that would expand the number of people who could potentially be covered under fair labor standards. It also allows labor organizations to promote participation in “secondary strikes,” or strikes organized by different unions, and would offer protections for union members who do participate in secondary strikes.

READ MORE: Full text of H.R. 20 PRO Act

Three Arizona congressmenGallego, along with Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-07) and Rep. Greg Stanton (D-04)have signed on to cosponsor the legislation.

Gallego says big corporations have made organizing a challenge. He also says unionizing is important in an economy that’s changing. In a statement when the PRO Act was introduced back in February, he spoke to the role organized labor practices play in strengthening the economy:

When workers form unions, they can access higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions. Every worker in Arizona deserves the right to join a union if they choose to, and this bill protects that right, says Gallego. Unions are essential to rebuilding Arizonas middle class.

KGUN 9 reporter Andrew Christiansen spoke with Trish Muir, chair of the Pima Area Labor Federation, who says she’s hoping Gallego helps to protect pensions and supports domestic manufacturing.

“It’s an important source of jobs and upward mobility for working people in this country, and continuing that conversation in making sure that we as a country have the ability to be sufficient, self-sufficient and keep our folks employed,” says Muir.

The bill also looks to broaden the definition of what are considered unfair labor practicesprohibiting employers from discouraging union membership or coercing employees into waiving their rights to join class-action litigation.

“…Im proud to join my colleagues to introduce this legislation that will empower workers to exercise their right to organize, while also holding bad actors accountable when they engage in unfair practices and labor law violations, Gallego’s says via a press statement.

Wednesday’s meeting also comes just one day before a new deal is due between UPS and the Teamsters Union.

Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien said in a statement that, should the negotiation come to a strike, it would be “The largest single-employer strike in American history.”

UPS works are looking for an agreement that would guarantee higher wages for all employees, more opportunities for full-time employment and protection against other workplace hazards, including extreme heat.

With the union already authorizing a strike, 340,000 employees head to the picket lines if a new contract with UPS isn’t agreed upon by Aug. 1.


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