WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Protecting the Right to Organize Act – AKA the PRO Act – is a Democrat-penned bill that would provide protections for laborers attempting to organize into unions, in addition to revamping rules governing freelancers and independent contractors. While the bill has been a major Democratic legislative priority and pro-union groups, it has also received significant pushback by big businesses and other groups who claim it would “fail the American worker.”
The legislation passed last month in the Democrat-led House of Representatives, but in the Senate – where Dems’ narrower control does not afford them enough votes to overcome the filibuster – means that the bill is most likely dead on arrival, despite increased pressure from pro-union lobbyists.
Under the PRO Act:
- The way employers and unions interact and collectively bargain would be greatly changed.
- What the National Labor Relations Board considers an “employer” and “employee” would be redefined, significantly impacting companies’ liability and responsibilities to their workers, which would change the 1099 classification of many independent contractors.
- Eliminate right-to-work states.
President Joe Biden has stated that he is a supporter of the PRO Act in a statement released after it passed in the House.
“Nearly 60 million Americans would join a union if they get a chance, but too many employers and states prevent them from doing so through anti-union attacks,” he said. “They know that without unions, they can run the table on workers — union and non-union alike.”
However, many businesses and Republicans have come out against the PRO Act, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce saying that it would “undermine worker rights, ensnare employers in unrelated labor disputes, disrupt the economy, and force individual Americans to pay union dues regardless of their wishes.”
In addition, the National Retail Federation (NRF) has referred to the PRO Act as “the worst bill in Congress” for a number of reasons, including their assertion that it will put “an end to independent work and the gig economy” and increase “government control over private contracts.”
And Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, (R-NY) echoed the sentiments of the NRF in terms of how the act will possibly impact freelancers.
“It would be disastrous for independent contractors,” she said. “The majority of independent contractors prefer that status, and [the PRO Act] would take that choice away from millions of workers.”