On Feb. 6, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the disingenuously named Protecting the Right to Organize Act by a vote of 224 to 194. Five Republicans voted for the bill: Reps. Don Young (Alaska), John Katko (N.Y.) and co-sponsors Jeff Van Drew (N.J.), Chris Smith (N.J.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.). Seven Democrats opposed the bill, along with Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.): Reps. Henry Cuellar (Texas), Joe Cunningham (S.C.), Kendra Horn (Okla.), Ben McAdams (Utah), Lucy McBath (Ga.), Stephanie Murphy (Fla.) and Kurt Schrader (Ore.). ABC urged members of Congress to oppose the PRO Act, considering the vote a “KEY VOTE” for the ABC Legislative Scorecard on the 116th Congress.
Thankfully, the bill is dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate, and in a veto threat, the White House said in a Statement of Administration Policy that the legislation would “take the country in precisely the opposite direction from the president’s successful deregulatory agenda, which has produced rising blue-collar wages and record low unemployment.“
The PRO Act is rife with policies that impose radical changes to settled U.S. labor law, benefiting big labor at the expense of workers’ rights and the well-being of the nation’s small businesses. A recent analysis by the American Action Forum proved the PRO Act’s economic cost would be disastrous for the economy. The provision limiting independent contractors’ rights would affect 8.5% of GDP and put up to $12.1 billion of additional annual cost pressure on employers, and the joint employer provision would cost up to $33.3 billion in lost annual output for the franchise business sector alone.
Following the passage of the PRO Act, ABC vice president of legislative and political Affairs Kristen Swearingen issued the following statement:
“This big labor wish list was passed at the expense of workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses by the Democrat-controlled House, and seeks to hamper growth of the U.S. construction sector, which supports more than 7.5 million jobs. Violating privacy rights, eliminating choice and diminishing the freedom of construction employees in order to shift the advantage toward forced unionization would fundamentally harm our nation’s businesses and curb opportunities for hardworking Americans.
“Ignoring sound policy that supports American workers and allows our economy to thrive, Democrats and some Republicans grit their teeth while supporting this bill to gain political favor with labor leaders. Thankfully, President Trump has issued a veto threat against the bill and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will never bring this harmful legislation to the Senate floor.”
Swearingen also chairs the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace—a coalition of hundreds of organizations representing millions of businesses in nearly every industry nationwide that oppose the PRO Act.