A bill is currently being discussed in the Senate that would not only impose dangerous alterations to over 85 years of labor law, but is also a series of reckless policies that would favor unions at the expense of employers and the economy.
The proposal in question is the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act (S. 420/H.R. 842). Proponents of the PRO Act claim it would “level the playing field for American workers,” but a closer look at the proposed legislation illustrates it only ensnares employers in unrelated labor disputes and would severely damage Arizona workplaces and competitiveness.
A bipartisan research firm, recently conducted a national survey of 1,006 registered U.S. voters, and the results reveal serious concerns Americans have about the PRO Act.
Among the litany of bad ideas within this proposed legislation would be the effective repeal of right-to-work protections that currently exist in 28 states, including Arizona.These right-to-work laws provide assurances to employees that they do not have to pay labor union dues in order to keep their job. According to the poll, this specific issue alone was a serious concern for 70 percent of Americans. Moreover, according to a column by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Sean Redmond in The Hill, “these results did not vary much based on party either: 68 percent of Democrats, 65 percent of Independents, and 74 percent of Republicans said they had concerns over repealing right-to-work laws.”
Currently, employees can elect not to join a labor union at their workplace — it is entirely their choice. The PRO Act would change that and allow unions to disregard established state law and collect dues from employees who have decided to opt out of a union. Additionally, in a state without right-to-work laws, an employer would more than likely be required by the labor contract to terminate an employee who refuses to pay union dues. This is why more and more states have adopted right-to-work laws.
“If the PRO Act were to pass, it would do tremendous damage to Arizona’s workplaces and its overall competitiveness,” said David Martin, President of the Arizona chapter of the Associated General Contractors in a Chamber Business News article last month. “We’re so fortunate to have a right-to-work law in Arizona that ensures that the decision whether to join a labor union is left up to the employee. Our workplaces are largely free of hostility and intimidation. We want to keep it that way.”
Revival of the card check, eliminating secret ballots
The PRO Act will also undermine the use of secret ballot elections. Instead, allowing labor unions to use a “card check” where workers would sign a card to authorize a union rather than privately voting a ballot. These secret ballot elections, which are overseen by the National Labor Relations Board, provide protections to workers from coercion and/or intimidation by either the labor union or the employer.
According to the poll, this specific issue alone was a serious concern for 70 percent of Americans. Moreover, according to a column by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Sean Redmond in The Hill, “these results did not vary much based on party either: 68 percent of Democrats, 65 percent of Independents, and 74 percent of Republicans said they had concerns over repealing right-to-work laws.”
The potential for union organizers to abuse this information in order to pressure workers is concerning. Workers could become subject to coercion and intimidation within their workplace, home, and out with their family. It’s not clear how this “levels the playing field and brings more fairness to working Americans” as proponents claim.
Some might not oppose this proposed act at first glance, but many American workers would reconsider if they knew long term it would hurt their jobs and their wallet.
Unions’ demands for mandated wage packages and stringent staffing rules would effectively kneecap the competitiveness of American companies.
This fact is a large reason unionization rates in the country have declined in recent decades. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.3 million in 2020, was down by 321,000, or 2.2 percent, from 2019.”
If the PRO Act really were pro-worker, more Americans might support it. But the recent polling data is revealing. American workers don’t want dollars from their paychecks diverted to labor unions, and they don’t want to stifle job growth, especially in a post-pandemic economy. Let’s hope Arizona Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly and the rest of the Senate are paying attention. For more information on the PRO Act click here.