As business owners continue to struggle to get through the pandemic, the U.S. House recently passed a bill that would only make matters worse for employers’ path to recovery by destabilizing workplaces and upending decades of established labor law, and would actually weaken workers’ rights.
In fact, the “Protecting the Right to Organize” Act (PRO Act) is nothing more than a Big Labor wish-list of almost every failed idea from the last 30 years of labor policy. The legislation includes (but is not limited to) the following anti-business proposals:
- It would undermine secret ballot elections, forcing workers to publicly make their choice about unionizing – exposing them to threats and coercion;
- Enforce an unrealistic standard for hiring independent contractors in the “gig” economy that has attracted a growing number of people, including students and part-time workers;
- Eliminates all state Right-to-Work laws, which protect workers in more than half the country against being fired if they decline to pay union dues;
- Stifles employers’ right to communicate with their workforce during union elections and encourages unfair lawsuits – placing further strain on an already overburdened civil justice system and increasing costs for job creators.;
- Expands a new “joint employer” standard—meaning that businesses could suddenly face liability for workplaces they don’t control and workers they don’t employ;
- Imposes mandatory union contracts if agreement isn’t reached between the union and employers, which would deprive workers of the right to vote on the terms and conditions of their own employment;
- … and so much more.
Following the House’s passage of the “PRO Act”, the PA Chamber issued a statement calling the legislation what it is – a bill that’s clearly intended to stack the deck in favor of unions.
“Make no mistake, this legislation is anti-worker … It weakens workers’ rights by undermining the right to a private ballot during union elections; forces employers to turn over to unions their workers’ personal contact information – including cell phone numbers and home addresses – even if an employee objects; and prevents workers from decertifying a union they grow to oppose,” PA Chamber President Gene Barr said.
“A recent survey by the National Association of Manufacturers found that 97 percent of respondents said the ‘PRO Act’ would negatively impact operations and damage relationships with workers.”
And on the topic of percentages, here’s another noteworthy statistic: According to an article from Bloomberg Law, unions won 72.2 percent of mail-ballot elections and 70.5 percent of manual elections through mid-October last year – results which “are consistent with a union win rate of 71.9 percent for the representation elections conducted form 2015-2019.” This begs the question – if union votes win the day most of the time, what is it about the current system that Big Labor thinks they need to “fix” by pushing through the “PRO Act?” With this kind of track record, it’s obvious to question why such a drastic measure is necessary – especially when it would have the effect of hurting an already-struggling employer community and lead to the intimidation of skeptical or hesitant workers.
The PA Chamber firmly believes that laws governing the workplace and labor relations – including union elections – should be done with every attempt to strike a balance in considering the interests of all stakeholders. In contrast, the “PRO Act” doesn’t consider this balance at all – it’s nothing more than a radical attempt at a power grab by Big Labor.
The “PRO Act” now awaits consideration by the U.S. Senate. The PA Chamber is teaming up with business advocates nationwide to spread the truth about this bill – how it would undermine worker rights, ensnare employers in unrelated labor disputes, disrupt the economy and force individual Americans to pay union dues regardless of their wishes. As businesses and workers continue to reel from the impacts of the pandemic, House passage of the “PRO Act” is just one more blow to an already struggling economy.
On behalf of the state’s broad based business community, the PA Chamber asks you to reach out to your member of Congress to convey disappointment in those who voted for the bill and appreciation for those who voted against; and to join us in urging the Senate to dismiss this misguided legislation.