For Some Democrats, Voting PRO is Risky Business

2/7/20

Google “future of work” and you get nearly five billion results. The term means different things to different people.  In our Workplace 2020 report issued a couple years ago, we wrote that the future of work is being hamstrung by outdated policies.

The most recent of these—the Family and Medical Leave Act—was signed almost a quarter of a century ago in 1993, with most others going back long before then—in some cases to the 1930s. In too many cases, these well-intended laws and regulations provide conflicting policy directives that reduce the competitiveness of American businesses and hurt American workers.  

The House Thursday made its case to update workplace laws and passed the PRO Act (Protecting the Right to Organize Act).  

Make no mistake.  This bill sends a clear message.   By supporting or opposing the bill, members were definite.   When Democrats control all the levers of federal policy making, the future of work means every worker is an employee and every employee will have an easier time joining a union.
 
The PRO Act is a legislative wish list of union-favored proposals which could threaten workers’ privacy, chill the new economy, and establish laws based on regulations that have recently been eliminated.    HR Policy has partnered with the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and has advocated against these policies individually and collectively in the PRO Act.  HR Policy lobbyists have met with Democratic and Republican staff to encourage members of Congress to vote no on the PRO Act.  

We reminded House members that this isn’t a free vote.  It’s troubling that some centrist members of both parties have now locked themselves into a position of support on this massive, unhelpful bill.   Of course, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is never going to take up the PRO Act in the Senate.  If or when the Senate control changes hands, will some members regret supporting the PRO Act on Thursday? 

Without the Senate or the White House as a failsafe, the Pro Act would:
  • Strip away workers’ private ballot in union elections; 

  • Codify Obama-era joint employer rules that would make it easier for workers to seek multiple and deep pockets in wage and hour lawsuits; 

  • Chill the gig economy and the flexibility independent contractors enjoy;

  • Eliminate Right-to-Work protections in 28 states; and

  • Permit unions to picket a supplier, contractor or other business not directly involved in the union dispute. 
A complete list of the offending provisions can be found here.  

The vote was 224 – 194 with five Republicans voting for the bill and seven Democrats voting no.  

For Democrats particularly in purple districts, maybe their constituents are ok with their vision of the future of work.  Employers should not be.

Update:  In the last edition of Nothing and Overreact I made the following predictions:

  1. “Three or four Democrats will claim victory in Iowa – the candidate who achieved the plurality, one or two who exceeded expectations, and one who didn’t have a complete meltdown.” 

    Mayor Pete and Senator Sanders can claim victory.  Senators Warren and Klobuchar can claim they did pretty well.  Former VP Biden, well?

  2. To secure the electoral college majority, the President needs to concentrate on Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.  Please note this excerpt from the State of the Union address.  The states weren’t randomly selected.  “With unyielding commitment, we are curbing the opioid epidemic. Drug overdose deaths declined for the first time in nearly 30 years. Among the states hardest hit, Ohio is down 22 percent, Pennsylvania is down 18 percent, Wisconsin is down 10 percent, and we will not quit until we have beaten the opioid epidemic once and for all.”