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May 5, 2019
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

NEW NAME, SAME BAD IDEAS: DEMOCRATS INTRODUCE UNION WISH LIST

F. Vincent Vernuccio and Morgan Shields
May 4, 2019
The Hill

Democrats in Congress are again pushing a wish list for union leaders at the expense of workers, small businesses and freedom of choice. On May 2, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, introduced the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act of 2019.

The stated purpose of the legislation is “to strengthen protections for employees engaged in collective bargaining,” but the result would be less freedom and fewer jobs for workers. It would, however, increase the union share of the workforce and, thus, increase union coffers.

Here are just a few examples of how that would work.

The most egregious provision of the PRO Act seeks to allow unions to get workers fired if they choose not to pay them. The act removes from states their ability to enact right-to-work laws, thus forcing private sector workers in the 27 states with these laws to start paying unions against their will.

The PRO Act also expands the list of workers that unions can organize and allows them almost unfettered access to their targets.

The PRO Act curtails workers’ ability to be independent contractors, upending one of the fastest-growing segments of the modern workforce. It would stifle employment innovation simply so workers can be shoehorned into traditional union organizing models and unions can try to organize them.

If a union does try to organize a company, the bill would put into law a controversial action by the Obama administration to give employers only two days to give unions information on their employees and vastly speed up the union election process.

Worse for employees, employers would have to hand over more than simply their names and contact information at the workplace. The legislation would force the employer to hand over employee “home addresses, …  and, if available to the employer, personal landline and mobile phone numbers, and work and personal email addresses.”

Once a union has the list of employees and all their information, there is nothing that would require the information be kept private or prevent the unions from using it for purposes other than collective bargaining. For example, nonprofits can rent their list of donors, members and others to make money. Employee information, then, could be sold to political action committees, other unions or other nonprofits. Employees may see an increase in marketing emails, phone calls and mail.

The PRO Act makes it illegal for an employer and employees to voluntarily agree to settle certain employment claims out of court and with an arbitrator. There is one exception, however: The provision does not apply if the employee is under a union contract. In other words, individual employees and employers are not allowed to reach an agreement, but a union can manage to waive the rights of all the employees it represents.

In an even more brazen show of hypocrisy, while the act limits the rights of individual employees to go into arbitration it actually allows unions to force employers into the process. If a union organizes a company but then does not reach an agreement in a short time, it can start a process that eventually leads to … wait for it … forced arbitration. An arbitrator then can write a two-year contract and lock the company into the terms.

The PRO Act also would put into statute another controversial Obama-era rule that made small mom-and-pop franchise owners “joint employers” with their franchisors. The idea is that, instead of having to go from small business to small business to organize workers, the union can simply go to one large franchise corporation and essentially do a one-stop organizing drive. Again, the legislation streamlines the process to add new (forced-dues-paying) members.

The joint employer provision adds undue burdens and takes away the freedom and entrepreneurship that makes these small businesses thrive and gives millions of people jobs.

All these provisions would result in less freedom and fewer jobs for workers, and increase the regulatory burden on small businesses — the backbone of the U.S. economy.

Workers should be given the opportunity to freely choose whether to join and pay a union. Workers should be in control of when and how their private information is shared with groups and organizations. When it comes to the terms and conditions of their employment, workers should have more say, not less. Small businesses should be freed from regulatory burdens so that they and their employees can flourish.

The PRO Act is not only pro-forced unionization, it is anti-worker and anti-freedom.

F. Vincent Vernuccio is a senior fellow at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute located in Midland, Mich. Follow him on Twitter @vinnievernuccio.

Morgan Shields is legal counsel and director of Workers for Opportunity at the Mackinac Center.

To access the op-ed, click here.

The Workforce Fairness Institute is an organization committed to educating voters, employers, employees and citizens about issues affecting the workplace.  To learn more, please visit: http://www.workforcefairness.com.

 To schedule an interview with a Workforce Fairness Institute representative, please contact Ryan Williams at (202) 677-7060.

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Tell Congress: Stop the PRO Act

WFI is working to prevent passage of the so-called Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act)—a wholesale labor reform package that takes the current careful balance of labor rules and tips it greatly in the favor of labor bosses and forced collective bargaining.

The PRO Act robs workers of the right to a secret ballot to form a union, forces union contracts on workers without a vote of approval, and expose workers’ personal contact information to union bosses seeking to organize a workplace. And that’s just the start.

Help us speak out against this woefully misguided and blatantly anti-worker legislation. Review and send the message below to your members of Congress today.

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WFI Key Vote Letter: Opposition to PRO Act

— 02.10.2020 —
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy: On behalf of the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI), I am writing to share our organization’s vehement opposition to H.R. 2474, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act). WFI has serious concerns with the broad, overreaching nature of this legislation and the many ways in which it would undermine worker freedom and privacy, while simultaneously threatening businesses and entire industries that keep America’s economy thriving. Please note that WFI will include votes on the PRO Act and its amendments on our Congressional Labor Scorecard, which scores and ranks legislators based on their activity associated with workplace issues. WFI was established to fight for American employees and employers as well as our entire economy. We believe in worker empowerment, the right of workers to be fully informed of the options available for worker-involvement in the workplace, and the right to freely choose whether to organize or not. No individual or group – government, a union or an employer – should be able to intimidate or restrict workers’ in exercising these rights. In an attempt to boost flailing union membership at the expense of workers’ rights, the PRO Act would upend decades of established U.S. labor law and institute myriad anti-employee and anti-employer policies that have already been soundly rejected—by Congress, various federal agencies, or the courts. Among its most blatant affronts to workers’ rights, the PRO Act would eliminate the right to a secret ballot when determining whether to unionize and enforce a “card check” system, exposing workers to the potential for harassment, intimidation, and coercion. The PRO Act would also enforce binding arbitration in union negotiations by a government- appointed bureaucrat; repeal and eliminate right-to-work laws in 27 states, force workers to fund union activities regardless of whether they support them; and threaten the ability of individuals to operate as independent contractors, eliminating traditional economic and employment opportunities and threatening the independence and flexibility of the emerging gig economy. On top of all that, the PRO Act would force all workers’ personal and home contact information to be provided to a union during organizing campaigns – in an electronic, searchable format no less, with no limit on what a union can do with that information. WFI believes in advancing sensible policies that protect and preserve the rights of both employees and employers, and we welcome the opportunity to work with legislators who also support these efforts. However, the PRO Act does not achieve these goals and would instead threaten the rights of both while jeopardizing our entire economy. WFI urges members of the House to strongly oppose the PRO Act. Sincerely, Heather Greenaway Executive Director Workforce Fairness Institute See the letter here.
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