Union top priority PRO Act clears Senate committee, but Sinema and Kelly still not supporting

Organized labor’s top legislative priority, the PRO Act, passed a Senate committee last month, a sign that its proponents are undaunted by the bill’s failure to gain traction in the previous Congress. 

The bill’s official title is the Richard L. Trumka Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2023, named for the longtime labor boss. 

The legislation would dramatically alter the relationship between employers and their employees by eviscerating state-level right to work laws that make union membership optional, would undermine the use of secret ballots in union organizing elections, and would allow labor unions access to employees’ contact information among other provisions that labor unions have long advocated. 

Section 104 of the bill says that when a union organizing election is planned for a workplace that the employer must “provide a voter list to a labor organization that has petitioned to represent” the employees. The list must include “employees’ home addresses, work locations, shifts, job classifications, and, if available to the employer, personal landline and mobile telephone numbers, and work and personal email addresses.” 

Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Danny Seiden said the section requiring employers to furnish their employees’ personal information is particularly pernicious. 

“As if ending a worker’s right to a secret ballot weren’t enough, now unions want job creators to facilitate their organizing campaigns,” Seiden said. “It’s not hard to imagine the potential for harassment and browbeating of employees at their homes, by phone, text, or email. It’s just one more reason why this Congress should reject the PRO Act.” 

The PRO Act undermines steps taken by Arizona lawmakers and voters to protect workers’ private contact information and to secure their access to a secret ballot. 

The state Legislature in 2019 passed with bipartisan support legislation to allow a health professional who is licensed by a health profession regulatory board to opt-out of having their home address made public, and it prevented an association of licensed health professionals from selling licensees’ contact information. Then Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bill into law. 

In 2010, voters passed Proposition 113 with 60% support, guaranteeing workers access to a secret ballot in union organizing elections. 

“Arizona voters and legislators from both parties have made clear that workers’ private information should be kept confidential and that ballots should be secret,” Seiden said. “The PRO Act would strip away the safeguards Arizonans believe are important.” 

The legislation was introduced in the previous Congress but failed to advance in the Senate because of holdouts like Arizona Senators Kyrsten Sinema, I, and Mark Kelly, D. 

Reintroduced in February by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., this year’s bill has 47 cosponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. 

Sinema and Kelly once again have refused to co-sponsor. 

“Both Sen. Sinema and Sen. Kelly deserve tremendous credit for resisting what must be intense pressure from the Democratic caucus to cosponsor this job-killing bill,” Seiden said. “If the PRO Act were to make it all the way to the president’s desk, overnight Arizona and the rest of the country would become dramatically less economically competitive. Arizona is fortunate that its two senators are holding the line.” 

The bill passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee June 21, but without Sinema and Kelly’s support, the bill is likely to fail in a vote of the full Senate. 

The Teamsters union cheered the committee vote and called on the rest of the Senate to “grow a spine” and support the bill. 

“Tough talk from Teamsters isn’t going to intimidate our senators,” Seiden said. “This bill deserves to fail and Sinema and Kelly will make sure it does.”

Craig Ruiz

Add comment

Subscribe to the Dry Heat

Get updates on the most important news delivered right to your email. Fully personalized options. No SPAM. Unsubscribe anytime.

Sign Me Up!

Let’s Get Social

Chamber Business News wants to connect with you. Follow us, tweet, share, post, comment... however you get social is the perfect way to connect.