Julie Pastrick: The PRO Act Would Harm Arizona Workers

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Julie Pastrick

In a recent speech by President Joe Biden, he spoke about Big Labor’s agenda in Washington. 

“I believe every worker should have a free and fair choice to organize and bargain collectively with their employer without coercion or intimidation,” Biden said in a Labor Day speech. “That is why I called on Congress to finally pass the [PRO Act].”

Unfortunately, that is not what the PRO Act will do. In fact, for Arizona workers, it would repeal their right to decide if joining a union is right for them and instead would force them to join a union or pay the dues. 

That’s because the PRO Act would repeal Arizona’s right-to-work law as well as similar laws in 26 other states. Right-to-work laws affirm the right of workers to form a union while protecting the right of every individual to decide to join a union or not. Under Arizona’s current state law, for example, if a majority of workers at an Apple Store in Phoenix were to vote to organize, each worker would retain the right not to join the union or pay the union dues. The law is popular because it attracts large employers that create good, high-paying jobs. But under the PRO Act, every worker would be forced to join the union. 

Furthermore, contrary to Biden’s assertions, the PRO Act actually exposes employees and workers to more coercion and intimidation inside and out of the workplace. For example, the PRO Act revokes the right to a private ballot in union elections and replaces it with a system that would require workers to declare publicly whether they support unionization. This “card check” mechanism is so onerous House Democrats intentionally omitted it when they granted collective bargaining rights to House staff early in the summer. 

It also requires employers to disclose personal worker information, like more addresses and phone numbers, to union organizers with the workers’ consent. Together these two provisions make it more likely that union organizers would harass and intimidate workers. 

The PRO Act seeks to turn franchise business workers into employees of their brands, thereby making it significantly easier for labor organizers to coercively infiltrate this industry. Further, it would reclassify gig economy workers as employees, thereby eliminating potentially millions of jobs in one fell swoop.  

Though the PRO Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives last year, it stalled out in the Senate in part because our own Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly prudently declined to back it. But like a bad penny, it has returned. POLITICO reports that a collection of unions intend to pressure Senate Democrats into voting on the PRO Act this month. Arizonans who cherish workplace freedoms and support our right-to-work law need to watch Senators Sinema and Kelly closely to ensure they don’t cave to Big Labor’s pressure campaign.     

The last two years have been challenging for Arizona’s workers. The pandemic shutdown had many wondering if they would be able to go back to work and under what conditions. Today, many are questioning their career choices and looking to explore new opportunities, with all the excitement and danger that comes with that. The last thing they need is a new policy in Washington that puts them under the thumb of labor bosses. 

Julie Pastrick is the president and CEO of the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce.

Republished with the permission of The Center Square.