Liberal Elites Are Pushing PRO Act
If you have been paying attention to the news, you’ve perhaps heard about the PRO Act. This legislation is being championed by liberals in Washington including President Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. These individuals all claim the PRO Act will “level the playing field” and bring more fairness to working Americans. A close look at the legislation, however, quickly reveals the real intent is to place more political power in the hands of out-of-touch Washington liberals.
To start, the PRO Act would implement what is commonly known as “card check” into labor organizing drives. Currently, if a labor union is trying to organize a workplace, employees cast secret ballots in elections that are overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. The secret ballot election gives protections to workers from coercion or intimidation by either the labor union or their employer.
That is apparently not OK with Washington liberals. Following organizing defeats at workplaces such as Amazon and Volkswagen, they want to remove the secret ballot and simply have a workplace organized if they get signed authorization cards from only 50 percent plus one of the workers. This leaves workers exposed to coercion and intimidation. Personally, I’ve yet to wrap my brain around how this could possibly “help workers.”
The PRO Act also would prove devastating for small businesses that may or may not have a union by authorizing what is known as a “secondary boycott.” Today, labor unions only are protected when they go on strike against an employer that they are collectively bargaining with on behalf of employees. They may not picket or boycott another business in an attempt to gain leverage against the primary employer in the strike. This has been a long-held law and courts will not hesitate to prohibit such actions.
If the PRO Act passes, however, that all changes. Imagine you are a small restaurant owner that barely survived the pandemic. Your business took a major hit, but you made it through and life is starting to return to normal. As part of your business operations you have relationships with a number of vendors, but you get your silverware from the “Shiny Silver Silverware Co.” One day a contract negotiation falls through between that company and its employees and a strike commences. This has nothing to do with your business, but when you go to open your restaurant you find a picket line outside. Your customers don’t want the confrontation that might ensue as they try to enter your establishment, and ultimately your restaurant goes out of business. This is the nightmare scenario that thousands of small businesses could face if the PRO Act passes.
A third major problem is that the PRO Act would eliminate Right-to-Work laws that are on the books in 27 states including West Virginia. These laws are quite simple. Under a Right-to-Work law, an employee has the freedom to decide whether to pay union dues if they work at a business that has a unionized workforce. Nothing prevents that employee from doing so if they wish, and it is entirely their choice.
If a state does not have Right-to-Work, an employer likely would be required by the labor contract to terminate an employee if they refuse to pay union dues. That is why a majority of states have adopted these laws — to protect employees. Nobody should be forced to pay dues to an organization against his or her will.
The proponents of the PRO Act don’t like to discuss these details of the bill in such stark terms. Their reason for wanting this act passed is to force millions of Americans to join — and pay dues — to labor organizations that overwhelmingly support the liberal Democratic Party.
That is what this fight is really about.
We all should be grateful to U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito for her strong and vocal opposition to this harmful legislation that is now pending in the Senate. We also should thank U.S. Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Carol Miller for voting against this bill in the House. And while I disagree with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin’s views on the PRO Act, he repeatedly has said he will not abolish the filibuster to clear way for this harmful bill. Sen. Manchin’s support of maintaining the filibuster has been one of principle — and one that both parties should support given our ever-fluctuating political environment.
Brian Dayton is a native of Moundsville and is the Vice President of Policy & Advocacy with the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.