The coronavirus pandemic rocked the American economy and affected workers from every walk of life. At the height of the pandemic last April, the national unemployment rate was nearly 15% nationwide. By the end of 2020, the unemployment rate dipped to 6.7%, but racial and ethnic minorities were still experiencing unemployment rates of up to 19%.
American families are hurting. Congress should take its responsibilities seriously and promote policies that level the playing field for American workers and provide the promise of actual relief.
But instead, while claiming to be pro-worker, the Democrats spent an entire week promoting the “Protecting the Right to Organize Act” (PRO Act). This is just the latest radical, backward-looking bill put forth by Nancy Pelosi and other legislators drastically out of touch with their constituency.
Opposed by over two million members of the National Right to Work Committee, thousands of small business owners, national and state trade associations and free-market organizations across the country, the PRO Act fails to protect even the most basic rights of American workers.
If passed, the PRO Act would fundamentally re-engineer our country’s labor laws, eliminate workers’ rights, devastate the economy and provide a political gift to labor unions. It would overturn right-to-work laws in 27 states, including Utah, and nationalize some of California’s most radical labor policies.
Right-to-work laws empower workers to privately decide their union status without the threat of losing their jobs. Absent these protections, workers would be forced to divert millions of dollars from their hard-earned paychecks to unions, even if they do not want to be represented by a one-size-fits-all union contract. Right-to-work laws ensure freedom for American workers, accountability for American unions, and quality jobs in American cities. But Democrats in Congress want to do away with those protections.
The ABC test was too radical for the California State Legislature, which ultimately passed several exemptions absent from this federal legislation. The PRO Act makes no such exceptions. A blanket approach that proved to be a disaster in California is certainly guaranteed to cause more harm to workers at the national level.
Especially in today’s 21st-century competitive economy, flexibility for entrepreneurs is critical. Should this legislation be signed into law, the result will be higher prices for consumers and lost opportunities for small businesses, entrepreneurs and workers.
House Democrats are rushing this extreme, sweeping bill directly to the House floor without a single committee hearing or markup, ultimately silencing members of the minority from having a voice and serving the interests of their constituencies.
As members of the House Committee on Education and Labor, we would have welcomed the opportunity to debate or amend this legislation on behalf of our constituents. Unfortunately, we were denied that chance.
Such a radical bill with devastating economic consequences deserves a robust bipartisan discussion that includes significant public feedback. The consequences? Stifled workers’ rights, increased disruptive and economically damaging union strikes and boycotts, and amplified union harassment.
We should be putting the power back in the hands of American workers, not throwing it back to the era of big labor union bosses.
Rep. Michelle Steel represents California’s 48th congressional district. Rep. Burgess Owens represents Utah’s 4th congressional district.