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New name, same bad ideas: Democrats introduce union wish list

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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.

{mosads}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 nonprofit institute in Midland, Mich., that advances the principles of free markets and limited government. Morgan Shields is legal counsel and director of Workers for Opportunity at the Mackinac Center. Follow on Twitter @MackinacCenter.

Tags Bobby Scott PRO Act Right-to-work laws small businesses Unions

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