In many ways the Democratic Party has become increasingly radical. A majority of the party now supports socialist policies on everything from health care to the environment. This radicalism unfortunately extends to labor issues as well.
The House will soon be voting on the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. This legislation is a liberal wish list that represents a draconian overhaul of our nation’s labor laws at the expense of employers, workers and economic growth while strengthening the authoritarian power of big labor.
Despite the fact that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the U.S. Supreme Court have recognized that there should be ample time for “uninhibited, robust, and wide-open debate in labor disputes”, the PRO Act deliberately speeds up union election processes so employees don’t have time to learn about the potential downsides of joining a union. Specifically, the bill codifies provisions of an NLRB regulation called the “ambush election rule” which significantly shortens the time span in election processes. Democrats purposely inserted this provision because they know union bosses are more likely to win elections when employees are uninformed about the downsides of union membership.
Second, the PRO Act increases liability for businesses by dramatically expanding the definition of “joint employer” to also include indirect control and unexercised potential control over employees. These terms are incredibly broad and ambiguous, meaning businesses could find themselves held liable for labor violations committed by another business when they might not have even been aware they were considered a joint employer in the first place. Even worse, the risk of increased liability incentivizes large businesses to stop contracting out jobs to small businesses. This would force large businesses to keep more jobs in house, which ultimately raises prices for both businesses and consumers.
The expanded definition of joint employer is also detrimental for franchise businesses. A study conducted by the International Franchise Association showed that the definition change has led to a 93 percent increase in lawsuits against franchise businesses, costing them over $33 billion annually, and leading to a loss of 376,000 jobs. The study also showed that the majority of franchise businesses have been offering less services in order to avoid lawsuits. This chilling effect hurts both consumers and workers alike.
The PRO Act also compels private sector employees to either join a union or risk being fired. Specifically, the bill abolishes state Right to Work laws which allow workers the freedom to choose whether or not they want to pay fees to a union.
If Right to Work laws are repealed, not only will unions gain unprecedented new power, but economic growth and employment will suffer. A 2018 study by the National Economic Research Associates found that between 2001 and 2016, states with Right to Work laws saw private sector employment grow by 27 percent, while states without Right to Work only saw a 15 percent increase.
To top it off, the PRO Act strips workers of their right to cast anonymous ballots in union elections. Under current law, workers are able to anonymously oppose joining a union by casting “secret,” unpublicized ballots. However, the PRO Act abolishes this practice and forces employees to make their choice public about unionizing, which makes it easier for unions to intimidate and threaten workers who do not wish to sign up.
As former George W. Bush staffer Vincent Vernuccio said: “The secret ballot is a bedrock principle of democracy. It allows people to vote the way they feel without fear of reprisal. Without it, those who hold the elections would hold all the power.”
Bills like the PRO Act represent another unfortunate symptom of the Democratic Party’s leftward lurch. This bill should be opposed by anyone who is concerned with worker freedom and continuing our country’s economic boom. The PRO Act needs to be permanently benched.
Rep. Ted Budd is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina’s 13th District.