THE PRO ACT
One of the most sweeping pieces of labor legislation in a generation, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act would have far-reaching negative impacts on a large portion of the American workforce, and significantly burden businesses and employers. By essentially eliminating the category of independent contractors, subjecting unwilling employees to paying union dues, and dismantling right-to-work laws in twenty-seven states, the legislation would have catastrophic consequences for businesses and employers across the country. The PRO Act would sacrifice the individual rights of workers and employers for strengthening labor organizations and unions, drastically altering the labor market and American economic landscape in the process.
Labor costs would skyrocket, and the regulatory stress placed on employers would increase as well. Workers would see their individual flexibility and discretion reduced considerably, as they would be bound to union dues against their will if they wish to remain employed under ‘closed shop’ union bargaining agreements. Meanwhile, the ‘gig economy’ would be functionally eliminated by the PRO Act, leaving independent contractors, including 77% of truck drivers, as well as Uber and Lyft rideshare drivers, to be classified as formal, legal employees. Thus, the autonomy currently enjoyed by businesses and employees would suffer under the provisions of this legislation. Additionally, by breaking the nearly eighty year-long prohibition on secondary boycotts, small businesses nationwide could be subject to picketing and boycotts simply for being a customer or supplier of a company involved in a labor dispute.
The PRO act would also:
Overturn “Right to work” laws in 27 states, permitting union ‘closed shop’ bargaining agreements with private employers in every state — agreements which mandate employees join the union and pay dues or lose their jobs.
Reclassify many independent contractors as legal employees - which would be subject to mandatory dues payments and monopoly bargaining.
Redefine the meaning of “joint employer,” subjecting many businesses to potential liability from being deemed joint employers, such as those in franchise agreements with independent businesses or those in other contractor relationships.
Narrows the definition of ‘supervisor,’ enlarging the potential pool of employees subject to union representation.
Prohibit employers from using mandatory arbitration employment agreements with employees, forcing employers nationwide to restructure employment agreements.
Provides that the National Labor Relations Board can ‘order’ and impose union bargaining on an employer while overturning favorable results for an employer in a union certification election, if the union files and prevails on an unfair labor practice charge alleging interference.
The PRO Act represents a broad expansion of government control and regulation over the affairs of businesses, imposing labor union control and restrictions on employees against their will and harming independent business owners and employers. It grants labor organizations and unions an inordinate degree of control over the lives of employees and the operations of businesses. As the labor market and businesses gradually recover from the economic devastation of the pandemic, the imposition of this act would derail much of the progress that has been made. Our leaders should prioritize policies which support businesses and workers trying to get back on their feet, and anything less should be seen as a step in the wrong direction.