Union groups to rally in Superior for labor protections bill

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act would expand labor protections.

file: labor rally
Members of the Northern Wisconsin Building and Construction Trades protest the use of nonlocal labor to build the new Cobblestone Hotel in downtown Superior in March. (Shelley Nelson / 2021 file / Superior Telegram)

A labor rally in support of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act will take place starting at noon Saturday, May 1, in Superior's Center City Park, on the corner of Belknap Street and Tower Avenue.

The event will include speakers, live music and information. It is being organized by the Twin Ports Democratic Socialists of America and has been endorsed by the Superior Federation of Labor and Duluth Central Labor Body.

The PRO Act, which passed in the U.S. House in March, expands labor protections related to employees’ rights to organize and collectively bargain in the workplace. It would enable workers to more easily form unions; empower the National Relations Board to fine employers that retaliate against workers who organize; and require arbitration when workers and employers can't reach agreement when negotiating contracts. It would also override what are called right-to-work laws, such as Wisconsin’s Act 10.

“It’s so important for Wisconsin; it’s so important for Superior,” said Superior Mayor Jim Paine, who will be speaking at the event. “Our economy will skyrocket if this passes. Home values, local business — it impacts every area of our economy because people will simply have more money to spend and there will be more construction happening. It’s good for every sector of the economy.”

But it’s currently stalled.


“At this point, it has been passed by the House and the Senate will take it up if it has 50 co-sponsors. Right now it is up to 47,” said John Krumm, one of the organizers.

He said it would be an uphill battle, but massive calling efforts by union organizations and members of the public have recently raised the number of cosponsors from 45 to 47.

The Twin Ports Democratic Socialists of America picked Superior specifically for the rally.

“Our group is Twin Ports; we often don’t do enough in Wisconsin,” Krumm said, and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson is against the bill.

Saturday’s rally is meant as an educational event and a chance to bring labor unions in the region together.

“This is going to be a recognition of the right to organize. It’s going to be a rally in support of better workplace conditions, including fair pay, fair benefits, safe work spaces and the right to organize. This is a right that’s been under attack in the United States and Wisconsin especially for a long time,” Paine said. “ Our economy cannot be built from the top down. It must be built from the bottom up. Everybody does better when more people are bringing home sustainable wages and, more importantly, coming home.”

Others expected to speak at the event include Superior Federation of Labor President Bryce Harp, University of Wisconsin-Superior Professor Joel Sipress and Wisconsin America Federation of Teachers President Kim Kohlhaas.

For more information on the PRO Act, visit .

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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