AGC of America Opposes the misleadingly named "Protecting the Right to Organize" (PRO) Act because it will Dangerously Wreck the Balance Between an Employee's Right to Bargain Collectively and an Employers' Right to Manage their Business.
The PRO Act poses a significant threat to the viability of the commercial construction industry, its long history of offering advancement and opportunity to all workers and its ability to rebuild our economy and revive our nation.
In short, the measure makes an unprecedented attempt to fundamentally change dozens of well-established labor laws that would create conditions where unions hold virtually all the leverage in collective bargaining with union firms and in efforts to unionize open-shop firms. At the same time, the measure would force employers to divulge private information about their employees, denies workers the right to a secret ballot and would unleash an unprecedented wave of labor unrest.
Update: On March 9, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the PRO Act largely along partisan lines. The final vote was 225-206 with one Democrat and five Republicans crossing party lines. AGC's advocacy efforts now turn to the U.S. Senate, where at least 45 Democrats have pledged their support to pass the bill.
Reasons for Concern from Every Corner of the Construction Industry:
- The PRO Act would eliminate all unlawful picketing, allowing unions to picket other employers to encourage them to cease doing business with the employer engaged in a dispute with the union. This puts union construction firms at a competitive disadvantage, as owners seek firms less likely to be impacted by unrelated labor disputes.
- The PRO Act would empower unions to strike for any reason and would remove prohibitions on partial strikes, slowdown strikes, and intermittent strikes.
- Read AGC's White Paper about the impacts of the PRO Act on union construction for more details about how the measure undermines union contractors.
- The PRO Act effectively repeals 27 states' Right-to-Work laws that allow employees to choose to contribute—instead of being forced to contribute—fees to a union.
- The PRO Act threatens secret ballot voting in union organizing by imposing "backdoor" card check, a voting process whereby employees sign their name on a union authorization card and submit it directly to union organizers. There are no secret ballots or private votes.
- The PRO Act imposes what is known as "quickie" or "ambush" election rules that limit employers' ability to inform their employees before a unionization vote about the impacts of forming a union on the business.
- The PRO Act expands joint employer liability, allowing contractors to be punished for another firms' unfair labor practices.
- The PRO Act adds civil penalties for employers and creates personal liability for directors and officers of up to $100,000 for unfair labor practices.
- The PRO Act allows private right of action for employees to sue employers in federal court even after their allegations have been dismissed by the Labor Relations Board.
- By allowing secondary boycotts – which allows unions to launch disruptive protests and pickets against any employer simply to gain leverage over another employer – the measure means many workers could be idled for a dispute where they do not stand to benefit.
- The measure also makes it extremely difficult for entrepreneurial workers to establish their own businesses by discriminating against independent contractors. These provisions will undermine many working people's ambitions to establish their own firms and become self-employed.
- The measure forces employers to turn over employees' personal, identifiable information so they can be solicited by union organizers
- The measure threatens workers' absolute right to a free, fair, and secret union ballot. There is something fundamentally un-American about potentially subjecting workers to intimidation and coercion when it comes to deciding whether and how to organize and seek representation at the workplace.
- More broadly, the PRO Act will unleash a new era of labor unrest and strikes that will make France look like the land of labor harmony compared to the U.S. It is hard to imagine how the country can build back better when work is idled, workers are unpaid, and projects go uncompleted.
The Pro Act Legislation - Measuring True Impact On Construction: The Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act bill now making its way through Congress attempts to overturn decades of federal policy. Despite its name, the PRO Act does much more than protect an employee’s right to organize and engage in collective bargaining. In fact, the PRO Act would expand the economic weapons available to unions at the bargaining table, at the workplace, and beyond. While the union-favoring legislation presents obvious concerns for open-shop contractors, union contractors may not realize the detrimental impact it could have on them. AGC’s CEO Stephen Sandherr explains on this episode exactly HOW and WHY this bill has potential to cause significant disruption in the construction industry, both for firms and the workers they employ, and upset the delicate balance of rights and restrictions established over decades by the NLRB, courts, and Congress.