The PRO Act Will Infringe on the Freedom of Workers | Citizens Against Government Waste

The PRO Act Will Infringe on the Freedom of Workers

The WasteWatcher

Millions of people in the United States work for themselves, at a time and for the jobs that they choose.  Unfortunately, the Protecting Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) threatens those choices and that freedom.  While the purported purpose of the legislation is to protect employees, it would have the opposite impact.

The PRO Act would turn into federal law California’s “ABC test” under AB 5, which was enacted in 2019, to determine if a worker is an employee or a contractor.  While the legislation exempted several professions, including accountants, architects, attorneys, insurance agents, and real estate agents, it covered hairdressers, freelance writers, tutors, and app-based workers for companies like DoorDash, Instacart, Lyft, and Uber. Since the bill’s passage in 2019, the California legislature has agreed to exempt several industries from AB 5, and voters approved a 2020 ballot measure that exempts app-based delivery and transportation services.  This approach to independent contractors has not worked in California, and it certainly will not work on a national scale. 

The PRO Act will also overturn right-to-work laws in 27 states that allow employees to choose for themselves whether to join a union. The bill would force workers in those states to pay millions of dollars from their paychecks to labor unions, even if those workers do not support a union’s political advocacy or wish to be represented by a union.  Among the top 10 states that have experienced the highest rates of economic growth, seven are right-to-work states.

Free speech rights of employers will also be limited by denying them the opportunity to speak before the National Labor Relations Board on any matter relating to union representation.  The bill only permits union representatives to speak in such instances.

This bill would also impinge on an employee’s right to privacy by requiring employers to share their employees’ personal information with union organizers without an employee’s consent.  Employers would be mandated to hand over to union organizers information relating to all of their workers’ home addresses, personal email, and their landline and mobile phone numbers, exposing these workers to legalized intimidation and harassment.

Secondary boycotts would also be legal under the PRO Act, allowing employees picket a neutral employer to apply additional pressure on companies to unionize by leveraging their business partners.  Unions will also be allowed to target any business in the United States for any reason, creating further economic and personal instability. 

The PRO Act would do considerable damage to the U.S. economy.  Workers in the energy industry, among others, have already lost or will lose their jobs due to recent Executive Orders issued by President Joe Biden, and even more workers can expect to lose their livelihoods should this bill be enacted.  According to an August 2020 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10.6 million independent contractors were identified in May 2017, or 6.9 percent of total employment, and under this bill their livelihood is threatened. 

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste joined with 36 other organizations opposing passage of the PRO Act on March 8, 2021.

Increasing regulatory burdens on employers, independent contractors and the gig economy will not help the nation continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Passing the PRO Act and taking away individual freedom to work where and how someone chooses is a bad idea at any time, but it is particularly harmful now.