Last week, the U.S. House passed legislation that would radically rewrite labor law in the United States. The “Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act” threatens employers and workers’ freedoms. A litany of almost every failed idea from the past 30 years of labor policy, the PRO Act includes (but is not limited to) the following:
- It would undermine secret ballot elections, forcing workers to make their choice about unionizing in public which exposes them to threats and coercion;
- Impose a strict definition of “independent contractor” that would deny individuals the ability to work independently, threatening the emerging “gig” economy and taking away flexibility in business growth;
- Stifle employers’ right to communicate with their workforce during union elections;
- Impose 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.
Following the House’s passage of the PRO Act, the PA Chamber issued a statement expressing disappointment and calling out the bill as clearly intended to stack the deck in favor of unions, which also exposes the schism between unions and workers. “Make no mistake, this legislation is anti-worker,” PA Chamber President Gene Barr said. “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. 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.”
“House passage of this bill is simply one more blow to a business community already struggling and will further hinder the nation’s economic recovery. We urge the Senate to oppose this misguided legislation.”
The bill passed largely along party-lines in a 225-206 vote. According to NPR’s reporting on the legislation, it is unlikely to advance in the Senate, given a lack of Republican support.