Beware the PRO Act (or at least be aware)

  • August 22, 2019

Do you remember EFCA? Back in 2008, employers were freaking out over the Employee Free Choice Act which would have radically altered labor law in favor of unions. EFCA failed to pass in an evenly split Senate that year to the immense relief of the American business community.

Are you aware that right now there is a bill sitting in the House of Representatives that is essentially EFCA on steroids? If you didn’t know, don’t feel bad. With immigration and tariffs leading the news cycle, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act has been flying under the radar since it was introduced in the House by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA.) and in the Senate by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) last May.

Protecting the Right to Organize Act (“PRO Act”) is designed to strengthen protections for employees engaged in collective action, to expand coverage of the NLRA to more employees, to facilitate a process by which workers and employers can reach a first collective bargaining agreement, to provide for stronger remedies for employees whose rights under the NLRA have been violated, to provide for penalties against employers who violate those rights, to safeguard the right to strike, to repeal prohibitions on collective action, to permit fair share fee arrangements, to improve the purchasing power of wage earners in industry, and to guarantee more effective enforcement of the NLRA.  You can review a complete section by section description of the PRO Act here

Here are some examples of how labor law provisions would be impacted under the PRO Act:

  1. Strong remedies and compensatory damages when an employer is found to have committed an Unfair Labor Practice.  
  2. More freedom to organize without employer interference
  3. Winning first contract agreements when workers organize
  4. End of Right to Work laws
  5. Protecting strikes and other protest activity
  6. Organizing and bargaining rights for more workers
  7. Codify into law the NLRB’s controversial Browning-Ferris Industries joint-employer standard 
  8. Curb opportunities for people to work independently through gig economy platforms or more traditional independent contractor roles

The PRO Act would completely rewrite labor law in the United States.  It’s not going anywhere in 2019, but if the Democrats can flip the Senate and the White House in the 2020 election, the PRO Act could become law within weeks during 2021.  THat’s why it’s important for you to familiarize yourself with the PRO Act now and start talking to your management team about it. Talk about it at your local SHRM chapter meetings, or in local business group meetings.  Here is a great resource for more information and facts on the PRO Act.