Joe Biden and congressional Democrats promised that the nation’s labor unions would be repaid for all of their campaign contributions during the last election cycle and they’ve moved one step closer to covering that tab. The House passed a “bipartisan” bill containing a labor union wishlist of items last night to the delight of union bosses around the country. The so-called PRO Act (Protecting the Right to Organize) receives the moniker of “bipartisan” in scare quotes because five Republicans voted for it, with one Democrat voting against it. The final tally was 225-206 for a bill designed to gut right-to-work laws around the country and enable forced unionization and dues collection in the private sector. The Daily Caller provides a summary of some of the lowlights of this legislation.
The PRO Act is a compilation of various policy changes that labor unions support, which would make it easier for unions to organize private-sector employees and minimize employees’ choice in unionization.
The bill would remove workers’ ability to vote against unionization via secret ballot elections, threatens the ability for a workforce to kick a union out and forces non-union workers to pay union dues, according to the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW).
The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) said the bill would create an environment ripe for union coercion. The PRO Act ultimately gives the National Labor Relations Board, not workers, the final say in the decision to unionize a workforce, according to the NFIB.
It’s taken many years and numerous challenges, with several reaching the Supreme Court, to curb the dominant power of the labor unions in this country. Multiple states have enacted right-to-work laws assuring workers that they would not have to join a union or pay dues unless they personally wished to do so. The Supreme Court has also held that several classes of workers cannot have money extracted from their pay and used to promote political speech with which they disagree.
Joe Biden and the Democrats are in debt to the unions, both literally and figuratively, and it’s been clear from day one that they intended to reward their benefactors no matter what negative impacts their efforts have on employers and the free speech rights of workers. Almost every component of this bill is designed to do just that.
The removal of the right to secret ballot elections for questions of unionization exposes workers opposed to the unions to union bosses who can then threaten their jobs. Forcing non-union workers to pay union dues not only hijacks their First Amendment rights but runs afoul of the right-to-work laws passed in many states. The bill is seeking to gut those laws, but even if it somehow passes in the Senate, it will likely be immediately challenged by virtually any worker in those states. The Supreme Court has previously been supportive of the rights of non-union workers, and the newly more conservative court could very well follow that tradition.
One of the most disturbing aspects of the bill is the enhanced power of the National Labor Relations Board to issue final rulings on decisions involving the unionization of workplaces. One of the clearest signals that Joe Biden sent on inauguration day was to take the unprecedented step of firing an NLRB general counsel appointed by Trump who still had nearly a year left on his contract. (That decision has since been challenged in court.) This overt politicization of the NLRB in favor of the labor unions tells us all we need to know about where Joe Biden stands.
Like many other of the Democrats’ “big ideas,” this bill is going to be facing a tough slog in the Senate. The Democrats shouldn’t have reconciliation as an option here either because that process is supposed to be reserved only for bills affecting spending, revenue or changes to the national debt limit. Pretending that this gift basket for the labor unions falls into any of those categories would be an insult to the nation’s collective intelligence. Also, there are a number of Democrats in the Senate who represent states where their constituents have voted in favor of right-to-work laws. If they cast a vote for this disaster of a bill, the voters back home need to be made aware of that immediately, particularly for the ones who are up for reelection next year.