by Rick Manning
The Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019 (PRO Act) is a great illustration of just how radical and out-of-touch today’s Democrat Party is. The bill, which has 179 House Democrat cosponsors and 40 Senate Democrat cosponsors, would force millions of workers into unions they oppose and destroy jobs while lining the pockets of liberal fat-cat donors. Just when some workers finally begin recovering from the Great Recession is no time to be killing jobs in the franchise industry and the gig economy. For these and other reasons, the bill must be rejected.
On May 2nd, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) introduced the PRO Act in the House; the same day, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced the companion bill in the Senate. The bill is essentially a grab bag of liberal Democrat labor policies designed to prop up failing unions at the expense of workers and the economy. Of course, the bill should not be considered charity but rather as a quid pro quo.
First of all, the bill would invalidate Right to Work laws in 27 states, not only overturning the will of the voters in many of these states, but also forcing many workers to join unions and pay union dues against their will. Of course, by paying union dues, union members would be subsidizing speech and political activity that they might oppose and this is exactly what the Democrats are trying to achieve in this naked grab for power. Furthermore, by effectively repealing Right to Work laws, House Democrats would be negating the revitalization of the US manufacturing sector making our nation less competitive with the rest of the world. Just when President Trump’s strong tax, regulatory, and trade policies are paying off with the creation of more than half-million manufacturing jobs, Congressional Democrats would adopt policies guaranteed to send jobs overseas.
Secondly, the bill institutes card check which effectively ends secret-ballot union elections inviting a climate of workplace intimidation. In other words, instead of being required to win an election, unions could gain power by simply conning or pressuring workers into signing unionization cards. Making matters worse, businesses would be forced to hand over contact information for all employees to unions without the employees’ consent so that union organizers could harass the workers at their homes.
Thirdly, the bill mandates ambush unionization elections. These snap elections may prevent those opposed to unionization from having a sufficient opportunity to make their case to workers giving unions an unfair advantage. Apparently Democrats are worried that if both sides have a fair hearing, then more workers will be inclined to vote against unionization.
Fourthly, the bill would bring back the Obama era joint-employer standard making franchisors responsible for the actions of franchisees. Franchises are often the gateway to entrepreneurship for middle-class Americans, and House Democrats would deliberately pour cold water on this basic American dream. By making the parent company responsible for labor law mistakes made by franchisees, House Democrats would likely kill the franchise goose that laid the golden egg.
Finally, the bill would make it tougher for workers to qualify as contractors. This could cripple the business models of FedEx Ground, Uber, Lyft and a number of other innovative companies that rely upon contractors to deliver their services to customers. The significant additional employment costs imposed by this bill are designed to create unionization opportunities for Democrats’ labor union benefactors, but it is doubtful whether currently independent drivers would survive the transition as they became little more than scheduled cab drivers.
The PRO Act is a threat to workers’ rights, to millions of American jobs, and to the U.S. economy as a whole; therefore, it must be defeated. Fortunately, not a single Republican has signed on to this disastrous legislation.
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Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government.