Backgrounder

REPORT: PRO Act Would Reduce Workers’ Incomes and Job Opportunities

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The labor union movement’s top legislative priority is the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. This legislation would, among other provisions, abolish state right-to-work (RTW) laws, allowing unions in 27 states to get workers fired for not paying them. This reversal of existing state labor laws is a bad deal for all workers─ unionized or not. If the PRO Act passes, it would have a serious impact on the income and job opportunities of both union-represented workers and those who choose not to join and pay a union.

Unionized workers in RTW states:

  • In 2019, there were 2.7 million private sector employees in right-to-work states who would be affected because they are unionized under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). About 1 in 6 of these workers currently do not pay union dues. The remainder pay voluntarily.
  • If the PRO Act became law, all 2.7 million union-represented workers in right-to-work states would immediately be forced to pay union dues or lose their jobs. Workers not currently paying would be compelled to pay. Workers voluntarily paying would lose the option to opt-out if they believed their union stopped representing them effectively.
  • These figures include 101,000 union represented workers in Arizona, 136,000 in Georgia, 412,000 in Michigan, 89,000 in Virginia, and 125,000 in Wisconsin.

Non-Unionized workers in RTW states:

  • Additionally, 61 million workers in right-to-work states have jobs in industries covered by the NLRA. If the PRO Act passes, these workers could be forced to pay union dues if their workplace is unionized. Currently these workers cannot be forced to pay union dues under right-to-work law, no matter how their colleagues vote on union representation.
  • This includes 2.6 million workers in Arizona, 3.7 million workers in Georgia, 3.8 million workers in Michigan, 3.1 million workers in Virginia, and 2.3 million workers in Wisconsin.
  • Workers who currently choose not to join a union save between $500 and $1,000 a year, which is the typical cost of annual union dues, sometimes even higher. But if the PRO Act passes, these non-union represented workers would be forced to pay and lose their savings. That cost averages $845 in Arizona, $805 in Georgia, and $545 in Virginia.

Workers in non-RTW states:

  • The 60 million NLRA-covered workers in states without right-to-work laws could never be freed from compulsory union dues if unions organized them─ and the PRO Act removes the ability of lawmakers in those states to pass right-to-work.

Learn more in our new report, “PRO Act Would Reduce Workers’ Incomes and Job Opportunities.” 

Or click here for additional backgrounders and resources on the PRO Act. 

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