House Passes the PRO Act

Date: February 11, 2020

Members of the House passed the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act on Feb. 6, which is designed to amend some of the country’s long-lasting labor laws. The bill passed in a 224 to 194 vote.

According to the Washington Post, the PRO Act, “would amend some of the country’s decades-old labor laws to give workers more power during disputes at work, add penalties for companies that retaliate against workers who organize and grant some hundreds of thousands of workers collective-bargaining rights they don’t currently have. It would also weaken ‘right-to-work’ laws in 27 states that allow employees to forgo participating in and paying dues to unions.” The bill will now go to the Senate for consideration.

MEMA advocated against the bill, stating the motor vehicle supplier industry has long had a balanced and productive relationship between employers and employees with respect to labor and workforce rules. However, the PRO Act would shift that balance, resulting in greater costs imposed on suppliers, impacting their ability to manage their workforce and provide jobs. Some of the problematic provisions in the legislation include:

 

  • Removal of a secret ballot for union elections, stripping employees of their rights to vote privately and in secret when choosing whether to unionize.
  • Elimination of Right-to-Work provisions across the country, including in states that have passed Right-to- Work laws.
  • Interference with attorney-client confidentiality, increasing reporting requirements for employers and their legal counsel retained for labor and workforce issues. This requirement is unnecessary and ignores the long-standing nature of confidentiality between a company and its legal counsel.
  • Language codifying the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) joint employment standard that strips workers of their right to private voting and secret ballots in union elections. This standard maintains that any two (or more) companies are joint employers if the primary employer has “indirect or potential control” of contract employees. This vague and uncertain standard increases employer liability for subcontractors and vendors.

MEMA encourages Congress to work with all relevant stakeholders − including employers, unions, and other stakeholders − to implement reforms that protect employee and employer rights while encouraging economic growth.

Following passage of the House bill, the bill will be sent to the Senate for consideration. The Senate must pass identical legislation before the bill can become law. MEMA will continue to advocate against this harmful measure.

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