Opinion

The PRO Act: Sens. Sinema, Kelly hold the line on an economic disaster

Posted 2/15/22

Union leaders are currently touring the country making misleading arguments about a bill you may not have heard of, but that — should it pass — would make radical and harmful changes to your workplace.

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Opinion

The PRO Act: Sens. Sinema, Kelly hold the line on an economic disaster

Posted

Union leaders are currently touring the country making misleading arguments about a bill you may not have heard of, but that — should it pass — would make radical and harmful changes to your workplace.

The bill is called the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or PRO Act. Put simply, it’s a wish-list for labor unions desperate to add new members.

Rather than facilitating growth in the face of rising inflation and other economic headwinds, the legislation would instead rewrite our nation’s labor laws in at least 51 different ways, damaging businesses and hurting workers.

The PRO Act has already passed the House, and President Biden can’t wait to sign it. Only the Senate is holding the line, and one key reason for that is that Arizona’s Senators, Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, have not signed onto this bill, which has 47 Senate co-sponsors — all Democrats.

Sens. Kelly and Sinema deserve credit for not supporting such highly partisan legislation. Their willingness to withstand organized labor’s ongoing pressure campaign speaks to their independence and commitment to do what is right for Arizona, rather than cave to unions.

While it is not a household term, the PRO Act would impact millions of Arizonans by reshaping the relationship between employers and their employees.

A particular concern is that the PRO Act would nullify right-to-work laws that exist in Arizona and 26 other states. That means workers could be forced to pay union dues — or be fired from their jobs. Right-to-work laws enjoy widespread public support, according to Gallup, with 71% of Americans supporting right-to-work laws versus only 22% who don’t.

This dangerous legislation would also upend the traditional secret-ballot election process for choosing whether to have union representation at a workplace, a process in place since 1935. Instead, under the PRO Act, if a union loses it can claim the employer “interfered” in the election and demand recognition using signature cards. Those cards would be signed in public, right in front of union organizers, who are known for their relentlessness.

The PRO Act would require employers to hand over to unions personal information about their employees, including their home addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses. It doesn’t take much imagination to picture unwanted visits by organizers demanding that you sign a card.

In addition to undermining union representation elections, this bill would authorize secondary boycotts, which have been illegal since 1947.

For example, if a union were trying to organize one of your customer’s businesses, they could launch pickets and protests not against their target, but against you. The intent is to pressure you into demanding that your customer accept the union, or to force you to stop doing business with them. If dragging a neutral party into a labor dispute like this seems unfair, that’s because it is.

Secondary boycotts led to countless strikes and economic upheaval, which is why Congress outlawed them nearly 75 years ago. We don’t need to turn back the clock, especially with our current economic struggles. 

For good measure, the PRO Act also would adopt a restrictive California law that undermines workplace flexibility and earning opportunities by forcing businesses to reclassify independent contractors as employees.

The law, known as AB-5, has caused widespread turmoil in California. Were it to become federal policy, it would cause many of Arizona’s 1 million independent contractors to lose their livelihoods.

The PRO Act would overturn Arizona’s right-to-work protections, undermine workers’ rights, and open the door for harassment of both employers and their employees. It is a partisan bill that should not pass, and its fate largely depends on Arizona’s two senators.

They deserve thanks for not signing on to this radical and harmful proposal.

Editor’s note: Daniel Seiden is president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Glenn Spencer is senior vice president of the Employment Policy Division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.