Big Labor Payback Will Hurt Our Communities

Controversial Bill May Impact Local Emergency Response Staffing

Katie Packer
June 23, 2010
The Grand Island Independent

As Big Labor works feverishly to force unionization on small businesses across the country, their friends in Washington, D.C. continue the ‘payback,’ most recently working to secure passage of the misnamed Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act.

Introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the legislation would federalize the unionization process for police, firefighters and other emergency response and law enforcement personnel. And it would be a boon to union bosses because it would strip control of public safety wages from local and state governments and put them into the hands of negotiators and arbitrators on a national level.

The result would break the banks of city, county and state governments, which would be forced to abide by the outcome of these negotiated deals, which historically have resulted in lucrative salaries, fat bonuses and rich health care and retirement plans that far exceed what these local governments can afford even in good economic times.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal editorialized against this bill, saying, “All across the nation, cities, counties and states are confronting billion-dollar budget deficits and multibillion-dollar shortfalls in the retirement benefits they’ve promised to their unionized workers. Senator Reid’s bill would worsen the burdens put on private-sector workers and businesses and heap all-new unfunded liabilities on local governments.”

If Senator Reid succeeds in getting the votes, millions of local tax dollars would ultimately wind up helping fund already insolvent Big Labor pension plans and other perks instead of helping to fight crime, make our communities safer and get first responders where they are needed most. That is why it’s imperative that we know where Senator Ben Nelson stands on this issue.

You might be wondering why labor’s supporters on Capitol Hill would push something that would heap heavy burdens on states that are already economically distressed. In reality, we shouldn’t be surprised, as these same Members of Congress have spent the last year working to pass the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act (EFCA), which would add at least $35 billion to labor coffers by increasing membership through forced unionization. EFCA eliminates the secret ballot in union-organizing elections exposing workers to immense pressure and intimidation at the hands of these same labor bosses. Furthermore, once a collective bargaining unit has been formed through the coercion and bullying of employees, a small business has a matter of months to agree to union demands or the government sends in an arbitrator and a contract is forced on the employer. Neither the workers nor the small business owners have any say or right to appeal the contract terms, which include changes to wages, benefits and workplace conditions.

And if the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act sounds oddly familiar in nature to the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act, it is because there are common elements between them. Both place workers and critical sectors of our society and economy at risk to benefit one special interest, labor bosses. The question to ask is, why? The fact is that after decades of mismanagement and recklessness on the part of bosses, union pension funds are woefully funded and have reached critical status meaning they cannot meet their commitments to workers who have paid in to the programs for years. As a result, the unfunded liabilities are massive and Big Labor is expecting representatives they spent millions to elect to bail them out yet again.

To date, Senator Nelson hasn’t taken a position on the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, but it’s time we know where he stands – on the side of Big Labor or with Nebraska communities, which rely on local emergency response personnel and small businesses?

Katie Packer is the executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute ( and resides in Alexandria, Va.

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AZ Daily Sun--Coconino Voices: PRO Act legislation would hurt local businesses

— 05.13.2021 —
By: Julie Pastrik Arizona businesses and workers have had an incredibly challenging year given the economic slowdown that followed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. However, local businesses and industries across the state are resilient and on the road to a strong recovery that will mean more jobs for Arizona workers and increased economic development to strengthen our communities. That is, as long as Congress does not move forward with potentially devastating legislation that would hurt local employers and employees alike while impeding our state’s economic recovery. Unfortunately, some members of Congress seem determined to do just that by pushing through the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. As harmless as the name may sound, the PRO Act would have serious repercussions for local businesses, particularly smaller ones, while undermining long-standing rights for employees and threatening the growing gig economy that has helped provide much-needed income for so many during this time. Arizona is fortunate to have leaders like Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, who have both refrained from joining the vast majority of their Democratic colleagues in cosponsoring the PRO Act. In a slap in the face to Arizona workers, the PRO Act removes one of the most fundamental rights a worker has when it comes to voting in elections to determine whether to unionize: the secret ballot. Instead, workers could be forced to sign union authorization cards in front of other employees, their employer, or union organizers. This bill would also destroy workers’ right to privacy by allowing unions access to personal information, including their home address and personal phone number. If that doesn’t open the door to union intimidation and harassment, I don’t know what does. As if that was not bad enough, the PRO Act would create major new challenges for Arizona businesses, making it harder for them to create jobs, expand in their communities, and even keep their doors open. It would redefine what it means to be a “joint employer” under national labor law, greatly complicating existing relationships between franchisors and franchisees as well as between business owners, contractors, subcontractors, and vendors and suppliers. At the same time, it would interfere with attorney-client confidentiality and make it much more difficult for small businesses to secure a legal advice on labor issues. Particularly harmful during these times, the PRO Act would apply a failed policy from California to national labor law by using the “ABC” test to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee. This makes it much harder to qualify as an independent contractor, threatening the freedom and flexibility that tens of thousands of Arizonans find in independent contracting and gig economy work. Ultimately, the PRO Act is bad public policy that only works for union leaders to inflate their falling ranks while threatening workers’ rights, undermining small businesses, and jeopardizing a growing part of our economy. This is not a good solution for Arizona, and Senators Sinema and Kelly should stay firm and not cosponsor this misguided legislation.
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