Labor Unions

The PRO Act Empowers Union Bosses, Not Workers

If workers were as eager to join unions as President Joe Biden seems to think, they wouldn't need a more powerful NLRB to encourage that outcome.


Labor unions spent more than $27 million to help get President Joe Biden, a self-described "union man," into the White House.

Now, they're looking for a return on that investment.

Specifically, passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), which cleared the House earlier this year but remains stalled in the Senate with all Republicans and three Democrats refusing to support it—despite Biden's calls for its passage as part of his infrastructure proposal. The bill is a grab bag of big labor agenda items that would extend some of California's awful independent contractor regulations nationwide, abolish so-called "right to work" laws in the 27 states that have passed them, and expand the powers of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), among other things.

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, has described the legislation as a "game-changer" for labor unions. And several major unions have threatened to withhold all future campaign contributions from the Democratic senators who continue to be the main stumbling blocks for the bill.

Unions are playing hardball over the PRO Act because they see it as a vital lifeline—a way to extract more revenue from America's workforce at a time when the overall number of unionized workers continues to decline. A high-profile defeat earlier this year in the first attempt to unionize an Amazon distribution center only makes it more clear: given the choice, workers mostly don't want to be part of a union.

So why not remove the choice?

"Labor unions want the PRO Act to stop plummeting membership and increase revenue from dues," says Sean Higgins, a research fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free market think tank. He's also the author of a new report that digs into the depths of the PRO Act, concluding that the legislation "empowers unions at the expense of workers."

Backers of the PRO Act say the bill is about empowering workers. In a joint op-ed published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette shortly before last year's presidential election, Biden and Trumka argued that the PRO Act was necessary to "dramatically enhance the power of workers to organize." They touted aspects of the legislation to beef up the NLRB's authority to "actively encourage collective bargaining."

But if workers were as eager to join unions as Trumka and Biden seem to think, they wouldn't need a powerful federal bureaucracy to encourage that outcome, Higgins argues. Less than 7 percent of American workers are members of a union right now, down from a high of 35 percent in the 1950s.

What's happened in recent decades? Unionization hasn't been outlawed. The NLRB wasn't abolished. But faced with more economic opportunities and an increasing number of states passing laws that free workers from being required to join a union to hold certain jobs, workers have voluntarily opted out of unionization.

The PRO Act is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for unions to stomp out those trends. By duplicating California's disastrous rules that significantly narrow the definition of independent contracting work, the bill would smother workers' flexibility to set their own hours. By forcing employers to turn over private information about their employees, the bill would invade workers' privacy. And by giving the NLRB the power to overturn the democratic results of workplace union elections in some circumstances, the bill would allow unions to "win" elections they'd actually lost.

Perhaps most significantly, given Biden's expensive infrastructure spending dreams, the passage of the PRO Act would significantly hinder the completion of large-scale infrastructure projects, as Stephen Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America, an industry group, has warned.

The PRO Act isn't really about empowering workers or changing the dynamics of the American workplace or building modern infrastructure. It's about directing federal power and resources to boost flagging labor unions, which have invested huge sums of money in the political system to get to this moment.

"Federal labor policy should be aimed at maximizing worker freedom," says Higgins, "not growing union power."

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  1. ROFL. Koch-suckers shitting their pants because their Mexican gardener might be able to organize for pay at or above minimum wage. You should hear what a sad, sad song is being played on this tiny, tiny violin.

    1. Hey there, you pajama class fuckwit, maybe you should talk to the folks actually *doing* blue class jobs about what we want instead of trying to shove your idiocy down our throats.

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      2. You see, you’re just to simple-minded to know what’s best for you. Let distant experts in DC who rake in contributions from unions that forcibly extract dues from workers make those decisions for you.

    2. Get up off of your damn knees.

    3. Well said. And how come libertarians who spout endlessly about individual freedom, recoil from the individual freedom to join a union? Hypocrites.

      1. When it includes eliminating right to work laws, which provide the freedom to NOT join a union.

      2. Which libertarians are against the right to create and/or join a union? I think you’ll find that most (if not all) of them are enthusiastic supporters of the right of employees to unionize… and also the right of the employer to can the lot of them for any reason it likes. You have the right to negotiate, not the right to dictate the terms of the deal.

      3. It’s actually union supporters who are against the right of people to choose not to join a union.

        Could you imagine the outrage if a job required you to contribute to GOP campaign funds? Change ‘GOP’ to ‘Democrat,’ and you have closed-shop laws.

      4. The people recoiling from the individual freedom to join a union seem to be mainly the workers.

        1. No, somehow the commies believe that it was Amazon, the corporation, not all of the black workers that wanted to keep their own money instead of forcibly paying the mob bosses.

      5. The Pro Act does not provide individual freedom to join a union.

        It provides a big stick, join the union or suffer the consequences.

        That’s not individual freedom.

    4. If you’re paying a migrant gardener less than minimum wage they are already off the books. Regardless, anyone can and should be able to form voluntary unions. Freedom of Association and Right to Assemble and all that. The violin is for those people who are forced to join a union they don’t want to.

      Lol I just really hope that the comment was sarcasm, or maybe that you’re an early drinker.

    5. There’s no way in hell my Mexican gardener would ever strike over pay. He likes making money too much.

  2. This will not pass through the Senate. It is a waste of time.

    1. Yeah I’m sure Cameltoe will cast the vote to torpedo a payoff to the unions who spent millions of dollars to perpetuate the fraud that put her into the white house.

      1. three Democrats refusing to support it

        Kammy doesn’t have the votes.

        1. If it passes the Senate, which I agree it won’t, any right-to-work state Democrat up for re-election and any challengers in those states they think they can get a win in are toast. The forced unionization of millions of Americans will suddenly make right-to-work as important to those workers as unionization is to the members. And the math is not in their favor.

          1. But the union cities are really popular nowadays, no one fleeing or anything, NYC, LA, Chicago. Teachers Unions are particularly popular in 2021:-)
            Every county in the US can live the south Bronx dream life. Workers paradise.

    2. I’ve seen a lot of things happen in the past 2 years that I thought would not happen.

      I never thought we would have open proof that a presidential candidate had taken bribes and he’d still win.

      I never thought that we’d have communication companies censoring newspapers.

      I never thought that the head of the National Institute of Health would lie under oath to Congress about a global pandemic.

      So we shouldn’t just sit back and say “that’s impossible”.

      1. Especially since the Janus decision, the unions are more desperate than ever before for $$$. And the evil party has shown they’ll do anything to stay in power.

        This crap getting placed into law is by no means impossible.

  3. Yeah, no shit. Anyway it wouldn’t have been brought up except by the house but assholes voted for two more senate seats (or did they) and you wanted a senile old man for president.

  4. BLM: “Strengthening Public Sector Unions”

    Police: Thanks!

    1. I predict that the GOP will go the way of the Whigs in the next 10-20 years and the Democratic Party will split into a radical minority coalition including ethnic minorities, alphabet people, cosmotarians, and celebrity whackjobs and the other half will be a social conservative organized labor and machine politics party. I don’t know which one will keep the Democratic Party name and which will get a goofy new name.

  5. 81 million votes isn’t cheap.

    1. The only sector with growing union membership is that of public employees, many with closed shops. More government spending will feed that particular beast.

    2. The votes themselves are pretty cheap, as they’re evidently just blank or photocopied pieces of paper.
      What’s expensive is getting them to count.
      But it’s your money being used, so who cares about cost?

  6. Hey look, it’s called the “Protecting the Right to Organize Act” so the rest of this article must be completely wrong.

    1. Hey look, Congress LIED!

      1. I’m shocked!

  7. Union bosses endorse and recommend to the rank and file union members Democratic candidates. Democratic candidate then legislate for unions and union bosses. Union bosses endorse and recommend to the rank and file union members Democratic candidates. Democratic candidate then legislate for unions and union bosses. Union bosses endorse and recommend to the rank and file union members Democratic candidates. Democratic candidate then legislate for unions and union bosses…..

  8. Union bosses endorse and recommend to the rank and file union members to vote for Democratic candidates. Democratic candidate then legislate for unions and union bosses. Union bosses endorse and recommend to the rank and file union members to vote for Democratic candidates. Democratic candidate then legislate for unions and union bosses. Union bosses endorse and recommend to the rank and file union members to vote for Democratic candidates. Democratic candidate then legislate for unions and union bosses…..

  9. The sense of entitlement of unionists to the enthusiastic loyalty of every worker is really something to behold. They really do expect to be loved by those that are coerced into being represented by their organizations

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  11. Ask the Union employees who worked on the Keystone Pipe line how Biden is working out for them? Might want to ask some of the United Mine Workers guys the same thing.

    1. Biggest reason most of the union workers I know want to get rid of the unions. They pay the unions dues, the unions pay the Democrats, the Democrats, and groups in the Democrat coalition implement policies that screw the workers and the industrial companies for whom they work. In the long run, the workers see that the party that says it is protecting them is destroying their jobs.

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  13. The main reason the fraction of union membership has declined out of total employees is that over time, fewer jobs call for the essentially fungible type of worker for whom unions made sense. You also see the proportion of management as having increased, as getting productivity has become more about adjusting the work.

  14. Ok- but – when they retire at 52 on the high six figure crony capitalist pension, they have to stay in the same state that they voted for Democrats to destroy. No vacation homes, 6 months in Florida etc. Sorry California and New York, Illinois pensioners. Gotta keep your 300lb fat ass on the stinking sinking ship you built and pay taxes on that sweet retirement in the state you destroyed. It’s only FAIR and EQUITABLE and NON RACIST for the next “Union” generations in NY, CA, Il…..

    1. Not only the state , the CITY or COUNTY you destroyed.

  15. “The PRO Act Empowers Union Bosses, Not Workers” Exactly.

  16. If unions were such a great deal, people would rushing to join them, not running away from them. In my hometown I saw the unions strike for six months over 25 cents an hour on a three contract when the starting wage was already higher than that of a teacher with a masters degree. The Union apparently didn’t understand math. Most unions are essentially organized crime anyway. The teachers unions are fighting to keep kids OUT of school while still getting paid. That is criminal. Public sector unions should be banned.

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