WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Rep. Seth Magaziner urged his fellow lawmakers to help pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) Thursday.

Magaziner and state labor leaders pushed for the bill’s passage in a media briefing outside the Starbucks off Route 2 in Warwick.

The congressman chose Starbucks as the backdrop for the briefing due to the coffee shop’s recent history of “illegal union-busting actions.”

“The right to form a union is one of the most fundamental rights afforded to all workers,” Magaziner said. “History has proven that when workers band together to collectively bargain, they secure higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions.”

“As unions have come under attack from wealthy special interests, big multinational corporations, and their well-funded lobbyists, all workers – including non-union workers – have paid the price,” he added.

The Pace Boulevard Starbucks also failed to unionize last year, following an attempt by former employee Cassie Burke.

“To me unionization was always an act of self-defense … you can see plain as day how Starbucks was treating union workers, you know you could be treated the same way in an instant, if they feel it is profitable,” Burke said. “Starbucks’ pushback against unionization highlights the need for increased labor protections.”

The PRO Act, according to Magaziner, will empower workers to organize by preventing retaliation against those exercising their right to join a union. It will also establish safeguards to ensure that workers can hold free, fair and safe union elections, as well as prevent employers from interfering in elections.

Burke said the PRO Action would give employees “better tools to hold companies like Starbucks accountable when they violate labor laws.”

Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled that Starbucks had violated federal labor law “hundreds of times” during a unionization drive in Buffalo.