Congress must reject Big Labor-backed PRO Act
© Greg Nash

I’ve seen a lot of bad bills come through Congress this year: attempts to undermine our Constitutional right to free speech, poorly-thought-out plans to restructure the entire American economy, mad grabs for even more of your hard-earned tax dollars, the list goes on and on.

In a sea of bad legislation, the PRO Act stands out as the worst bill in Congress.

The “Protecting the Right to Organize Act” (PRO Act) seeks to rewrite our country’s labor laws in order to strengthen the coercive power of labor unions at the expense of workers and the economy.

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Decades of legal precedent are pushed to the wayside in pursuit of this complete takeover by Big Labor. The PRO Act effectively repeals all right-to-work laws across the country that afford workers the freedom to choose whether or not to pay fees to a union – a crucial legal protection, since most workers never voted for the union that represents them. My home state of Oklahoma is a right-to-work state. This bill would negatively impact the people of my state in a severe way.

Our workers deserve strong legal protections that keep them safe from unfair coercion or pressure to join a union and pay their fees just to keep their job.

Before I came to Congress, I was a business owner for more than 30 years. When I talk about labor issues and unionization, I’m not wading into issues I know nothing about; I’m speaking from decades of personal experience.

This I know, there is nothing more empowering to the workers of America than the freedom of choice.

The PRO Act gives unions the power to penalize workers for not paying union dues – even if the individual does not want to join the union. This bill allows unions to force the individual to choose between paying dues or getting fired.

Intimidation tactics and coercion have no place in our workforce. Individuals deserve the right to choose whether or not to join a union just like they deserve the right to choose where to shop or who to vote for.

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Elimination of secret ballots only increases the likelihood of browbeating and coercion.

One of the most grievous infringements of the PRO Act is the erosion of privacy for individuals – including the ones who choose not to participate in a union. Any employee’s private information is given to the union and there’s nothing the individual or their employer can do to stop it. More than just a nuisance, the potential for misuse of data could be dangerous. This invasive provision embedded in the bill is something even supporters of unionization should be concerned about.

Mind you, this bill impacts private-sector employees as well as public.

In a modern world, our workforce demands modern solutions. Today’s worker desires independence and flexibility, not the mandated uniformity that comes with union representation. Union memberships have been on a steady decline for a generation. When confronted with the reality of what unionization means for many workers, it’s no surprise that today’s workforce wants something different.

What our workers need is not a hail-Mary pass to salvage unions, but a contemporary effort to meet the needs of today’s workforce. The challenges our workers face today are vastly different from those of our grandparents and great-grandparents. The unions that control our workforce were established in a different time with very specific needs from their members.

Times have changed – and so has our workforce. Congress needs to be aware of those differences and draft legislation that keeps up with the changing workplace norms.

The fact that so many of my Democratic colleagues support this bill alarms me. It’s not good for workers. It’s not good for employers. Its only benefit is to union coffers and Big Labor.

Experience matters. It’s something I’m reminded of every single day. Many of my colleagues who support this bill have never run a business or hired anyone outside of their political careers. They don’t have the advantage of knowing how these issues impact our workforce. I do.

Earlier, I said the PRO Act is the worst bill in Congress. That’s not an exaggeration. This bill is bad news for everyone involved. I hope my colleagues will agree with me that we must prioritize our American workforce and vote NO on the PRO Act.

Hern represents the 1st District of Oklahoma and is a member of the House Committee on Small Business.