HOW THE SO-CALLED PRO ACT HURTS THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY AND UNDERMINES ECONOMIC RECOVERY

Written by  STEPHEN E. SANDHERR

IN EARLY MARCH THE HOUSE OF Representatives passed a measure called the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or PRO Act for short. While the measure is ostensibly designed to make it easier for employees to select a union to be their bargaining representative, it is important to understand that the measure will threaten worker privacy, hurt construction firms of all types and undermine the economic recovery many Americans eagerly await.

Many media outlets predicted the measure would have little chance of success in the Senate. Yet we are less sanguine, largely because we suspect Democrats will find a pretense for doing away with filibuster sometime this year. When that happens, Democrats will only need 50 votes to pass the PRO Act in the Senate, meaning there will be a strong chance the measure becomes law before the year is out.

Among the many sweeping changes to existing labor protections included in the measure, the PRO Act forces employers to turn over employees’ personal, identifiable information – including name, home address, phone numbers, email address and shift schedules – to unions so they can be solicited by organizers. There is no provision for employees to opt out of this disclosure of their personal information or protections limiting its use.

Worse, the measure also threatens workers’ absolute right to a free, fair, and secret union ballot. It instead allows unionization votes to be decided, in many cases, based on how many employees sign, in public, cards indicating their support for the union. Asking people to vote their conscious in a room full of their co-workers and organizers creates a potentially coercive atmosphere that dilutes the free choice of the employee making the decision.

The PRO Act will hurt all types of construction firms. It effectively repeals state Right to Work Laws. It imposes quickie, or ambush, election rules that limit employers’ ability to advocate during an employee vote to unionize. It subjects construction executives to fines and penalties for the improper labor practices of their subcontractors. And it would empower unions to strike for any reason and removes prohibitions against partial strikes, slowdown strikes and intermittent strikes.

Th PRO Act will also stifle that American entrepreneurial spirit. Among its provisions, is language that bars companies from hiring independent contractors. Why anyone would want to repress new business creation, especially at a time like this, is hard to understand. The combined impact of this measure – labor uncertainty, frequent strikes, and diminished entrepreneurship – will be to undermine the economic recovery Americans are counting on now that the pandemic appears to be winding down.

AGC has been the most active association in pushing back against the PRO Act prior to the House vote. Thanks to the AGC Construction Advocacy Fund, we made the largest investment in digital advertising against the measure of any business group. And thanks to your engagement, members sent over 30,000 messages to Congress and the White House pushing back against the measure.

We plan to remain as vigilant against the PRO Act as it works its way through the Senate. Make no mistake, the PRO Act has a good chance of becoming a law later this year. Pushing back, effectively, against this misguided measure will require an even greater investment from the AGC Construction Advocacy Fund. As you remain, or become, engaged in this fight, understand that we need you to contact your Senators and tell them to vote no against the PRO Act. But we also need your support for, and contributions to, the AGC Construction Advocacy Fund to be able to stop the PRO Act from becoming law.



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