The "PRO Act" is the euphemistic acronym for the euphemistically named "Protecting the Right to Organize Act."
"The PRO Act is one of the most economically damaging bills ever considered by Congress, and the House rushed it through as we attempt to recover from a once-in-a-generation economic crisis," writes Akash Chougule, a senior advisor to Americans for Prosperity and a former professional staff member on the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee, in The Hill.
"To put it succinctly, the PRO Act represents a radical rewrite of American labor law that would threaten worker privacy, force workers to pay union dues or lose their jobs, and undermine free speech rights," writes Sean P. Redmond of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
What does the Act do?
The U.S. Chambers summarizes the bill:
· The PRO Act would effectively overturn right-to-work laws that have been democratically passed in 27 states. Under right-to-work laws, workers in unionized businesses can opt out of paying unwanted union dues. Under the PRO Act, a worker who makes that choice is likely to be fired.
· The bill also would do an end-run around the current system of private ballot union representation elections. Instead, it would encourage “card check” voting where union organizers would approach individual workers and demand that they publicly sign a card in favor of the union. Even worse, when unions “win” such a rigged process, the federal government is empowered to impose a collective bargaining contract on an employer.
· Employers also would be stripped of fundamental legal rights under the PRO Act, losing their standing in cases before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Yet, if they fail to follow an NLRB decision they could also be fined—up to $100,000 in some cases—and their officers held personally liable for alleged violations.
· Worker privacy would also come under threat, as the PRO Act would put into legislation a requirement that employers give unions personal information about their workers, such as home addresses and phone numbers, cell phone numbers, e-mail addresses, shift locations, and work schedules.
[Source: US Chamber of Commerce]
Will it pass?
The PRO Act passed in the U.S. House on March 9, and is now in the U.S. Senate.
Forbes senior contributor Erik Sherman assessed it's chances:
"All this is happening, as well, in a difficult political climate, where Democrats have already been defeated, and apparently given up, on increasing the federal minimum wage—a move that one might think should have been even more important.
" ... [W]ith a 50-50 split in the Senate—probably at least three Democrats there who will be unfriendly toward the bill, and the GOP half of the body able to start a filibuster that Democrats can’t break—this seems like legislation with a dubious immediate future.
"Project forward into 2022, when the Democrats might well lose advantage in the Senate, House, or both, given long-established patterns in mid-term elections."
What can you do?
While we are in Massachusetts with an all-Democratic congressional delegation, you may wish to tell your U.S. senators that not all their constituents support the legislation. Here are links to share your opinion with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey: