Backgrounder

Protecting the Right to Organize Act

Tags:

Binding Arbitration, Card Check, Democrat bill, Independent Contractor, Joint Employer, Persuader rule, Pro Act, Secondary boycotts, Secret Ballot

Bill name: Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act
Bill sponsor: Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)

Summary:  The PRO Act would weaken worker freedom and protections, increase regulation of businesses, and strengthen collective bargaining to increase the union share of the workforce.

Background:  The bill language is a comprehensive rewrite of labor rules for the workplace. Provisions impact employees and employers alike, while greatly expanding the protected activities of labor organizations.

Under the PRO Act, workers in all 27 right-to-work states would no longer enjoy those rights and could be forced to pay union dues against their wills. All workers’ personal contact information would be required to be shared with a union during an organizing campaign, to include home and cell phone numbers, work and personal email addresses, and home address.  The bill includes no privacy protections for that information once it has been provided to the organizing union.

The burgeoning “gig economy” and the flexibility those workers enjoy would be blocked by new restrictions on the employment of independent contractors.  Those work opportunities would be reduced by the PRO Act’s expanded coverage of who is deemed an employee under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) – a move designed to increase opportunities for unionization.

Employers, under the bill, could be unionized via “card check”, a process that exposes the workers and workplace to intimidation tactics rather than using a secret ballot election.  Employers and employees could also be forced into a union contract via binding arbitration at the hands of third-party lawyers.

The Obama-era “micro union” rule would be codified, allowing for small, gerrymandered parts of a workplace to be unionized rather than the workforce unit as a whole. The Obama-era “joint employer” standard would also be codified to expand the definition of joint employer to include companies that may have only indirect control over the terms and conditions of employment rather than “direct and immediate” control.

The PRO Act would benefit labor organizations by expanding their right to strike to include secondary boycotts which affect third parties not involved in a collective bargaining dispute and disruptive “intermittent” strikes that can happen routinely for short periods of time.  The union would also have expanded remedies to pursue against employers, to include, per Chairman Scott, “swift temporary reinstatement [of union workers], liquidated damages, and the ability to bring cases directly to federal court.”

Bill Status:  The PRO Act was approved by the House Committee on Education and Labor on September 25, 2019 by a party-line vote of 26-21.

Click here to read the bill language. 

Click here to download the PRO Act Backgrounder. 

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Additional Resources

Study: Protecting the Secret Ballot: The Dangers of Union Card Check
October 22, 2019, Mackinac.org
F. Vincent Vernuccio, Mackinac Center for Public Policy
https://www.mackinac.org/26955

H.R.2474 – Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019
Introduced on May 2, 2019, Congress.gov
https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/2474/text

Op-ed: New name, same bad ideas: Democrats introduce union wish list
May 4, 2019, The Hill
F. Vincent Vernuccio, Mackinac Center for Public Policy
https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/442024-new-name-same-bad-ideas-democrats-introduce-union-wish-list

Report: Labor’s Litany of Dangerous Ideas: The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
https://www.uschamber.com/stop-the-pro-act

Blog: Protecting the Right to Organize Act
Coalition for a Democratic Workplace
https://myprivateballot.com/issues/pro-act/

Op-ed: PRO Act’s stealth ‘card check’ option gives unions unfair advantage
August 9, 2019, The Hill
F. Vincent Vernuccio, Mackinac Center for Public Policy
https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/456434-pro-acts-stealth-card-check-option-gives-unions-unfair-advantage

Blog: The Case against the Protecting the Right to Organize Act
August 27, 2019, CEI.org
Trey Kovacs, Competitive Enterprise Institute
https://cei.org/content/case-against-protecting-right-organize-act

Op-ed: Unions Still Want to Repeal the Workers’ Private Ballot
November 6, 2019, The American Spectator
Vincent Vernuccio, Mackinac Center for Public Policy
https://spectator.org/unions-still-want-to-repeal-the-workers-private-ballot/

Op-ed: Democrats lurching leftward exemplified with new labor bill
November 18, 2019, The Hill
Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC)
https://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/labor/470977-democrats-leftward-lurch-exemplified-with-new-labor-bill

Blog: Independent contractor status under threat
November 2019
Coalition for a Democratic Workplace
https://myprivateballot.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Indep.-Contactor-Fact-Sheet-11-19.pdf

Blog: PRO Act targets mainstreet consumers and businesses
May 2019, Myprivateballot.com
Coalition for a Democratic Workplace
https://myprivateballot.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/PRO-Act-Fact-Sheet-5.19.pdf

Letter to Congress: Opposition to Protecting the Right to Organize Act
November 20, 2019, Myprivateballot.com
Coalition for a Democratic Workplace
https://myprivateballot.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Senate-PRO-Act-Letter-11-20-19.pdf

Blog: The PRO Act Gives Unions Everything They Could Want
November 20, 2019, Nlpc.org
Carl Horowitz, National Legal & Policy Center
https://nlpc.org/2019/11/20/the-pro-act-gives-unions-everything-they-could-want/

Letter to Congress: Concerns with Independent Contractors in the PRO Act
July 24, 2019
Coalition for Workforce Innovation, Workforceinnovation.net
https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/afca31c0-5c41-4b51-a572-dc8f062842f4/downloads/CWI_PRO_Act_Hearing_Final_Letter_7_25_18_pdf.pdf?ver=1564064534806

Op-ed: Leading retailers are pro-worker – why isn’t the PRO Act?
February 1, 2020, The Hill
Evan Armstrong, Retail Industry Leaders Association
https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/481017-leading-retailers-are-pro-worker-why-isnt-the-pro-act

News: Pro-union bill in U.S. House a serious threat to gig economy in North Carolina
February 6, 2020, CarolinaJournal.com
Kari Travis, The Carolina Journal
https://www.carolinajournal.com/news-article/pro-union-bill-in-u-s-house-a-serious-threat-to-gig-economy-in-north-carolina/

A California-style Brexit: Freelancers are rising up in opposition to the state’s new law regulating “gig workers”
February 13, 2020, City Journal
Erica Sandberg, consumer-finance reporter
https://www.city-journal.org/california-gig-worker-law-revolt

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