In this ongoing series about the PRO Act, we’ll shine a light on why this legislation is so harmful, and why retailers are advocating instead for modernized federal workforce policy that enables the industry to continue investing in people and communities. The below insight was provided by Jay Kuhns, Vice President, Business Development with our strategic partner IRI Consultants.
THE GOOD (for Unions): GIVES UNION LEADERS FREE ACCESS TO EMPLOYEES’ PERSONAL INFORMATIONThe PRO Act gives union leaders, representatives and organizers almost unlimited reach when it comes to communicating with employees, even those who have no interest in the union. The Act makes it mandatory for employers to turn over employees’ personal contact information – home address, home phone number, cell phone number, email address – to union organizers when the NLRB directs an election. This opens up employees to unfettered access by union organizers and the people with whom they partner with during organizing. Employees will be subject to home visits, often on nights and weekends when they are trying to relax with friends and family. Unions, which have increasingly been using text messages, emails and social media for organizing, will now be able to easily obtain employees’ personal contact information. In addition, there are no rules covering what the union can do with the information, so it is possible the union could give or sell the information to other parties. The PRO Act also allows organizers to use company electronic communications for organizing efforts, so employees will have no respite from constant union pressure.
Unions have long argued for a method of recognition known as “card check” where unions will be certified if they can present signed authorizations from a majority of employees, even if employees didn’t fully understand what they were signing or were pressured into signing. In essence, the PRO Act gives them this power. Under the proposed legislation, if a union loses a secret ballot election, it will be certified as the winner of the election solely on the basis of a majority of signed cards if NLRB determines the employer has committed an unfair labor practice. With a relatively low bar for substantiating unfair labor practice charges and the burden of proof shifted to the employer to show it did not interfere in the outcome of the election, this provision will serve as a “backdoor card check” that unions have lobbied for.
THE BAD: UNIONS CAN GET IN EVEN IF A MAJORITY OF EMPLOYEES VOTE NO
THE UGLY: EMPLOYEES LOSE RIGHTS THEY ENJOY IN AT LEAST 27 STATESIn a severe encroachment on federalism and states’ rights, the PRO Act prohibits all right-to-work laws that have been enacted in 27 states and Guam. These laws protect employees from being forced to pay union dues or agency fees as a condition of employment. By revoking these laws, which were proposed, debated and enacted by the respective states, the PRO Act gives unions one of their stated goals of “union security,” meaning dues payment is mandatory. In most cases, employers would also be required to deduct union dues payments out of employees’ paychecks, which means the union gets its money before the employee.
RILA and its members are focused on building a 21st century retail workforce that is diverse, innovative and skilled. Many of the provisions of the PRO Act are harmful to employees who aren’t interested in unions and want to participate in a modern workforce. The country’s employees deserve the right to their privacy and freedom not to be forced to join a union. We encourage elected leaders in Congress to reject the PRO Act and instead work with employers and employees on proposals that benefit the entire retail industry.
For more information about RILA’s workforce policy initiatives, please contact Evan Armstrong.
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