WASHINGTON, D.C.—Thursday, members of the U.S. House of Representatives reintroduced the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO) Act. Independent Women’s Voice (IWV) opposes the PRO Act because of the damage it will inflict on working men and women, especially during the pandemic.
The PRO Act proposes sweeping changes to national labor laws including repealing and banning right-to-work state laws, which had freed workers from having to financially support unions even when they opt out of union membership. If the PRO Act becomes law, employers would be forced to turn over workers’ personal, private information to union organizers, potentially subjecting workers to harassment and retribution. The PRO Act would also impose a version of California’s job-killing law Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) on the entire nation. That provision would reclassify millions of independent contractors as employees.
Carrie Lukas, vice president of Independent Women’s Voice, released the following statement:
“The PRO Act is an assault on freedom and choice in the workplace. Today, there are many options for gainful employment, including work arrangements outside of a nine-to-five job. This is liberating for women. The workforce has created flexible opportunities that allow women to supplement their family’s income or entirely support themselves and their families while balancing caregiving, medical issues, and other priorities.
“Today’s workers are also empowered to negotiate the wages, benefits, and time off they want and the schedules that fit their own unique circumstances. They don’t need a union boss or government to be the middleman for them. The PRO Act would change all of this and force workers to choose between a one-size-fits-all traditional job or no work at all.
“We know who this bill was written to benefit and it is not workers. Unions have watched their membership and influence wither away over decades. Eliminating independent contracting will force workers back into union-driven employment. Other provisions will strip workers of their right to choose for themselves if they want to participate in or support unions and open them up to harassment or intimidation if they say no. The PRO Act is a naked attempt to fill union ranks and one that Americans must reject.”
Patrice Onwuka, a senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Voice, released the following statement:
“We are in the middle of a global pandemic that has cost millions of workers their livelihoods. The PRO Act is the wrong policy at the wrong time.
“The impact of nationalizing the stringent ABC-test codified by California’s AB5 will leave millions of the nation’s 57 million freelancers out of work. We saw what AB5 did to Californians. Workers across hundreds of industries lost contracts, reliable income, and recurring work. Many shuttered their businesses, which were already hard hit by pandemic closures. Now, Congress wants to inflict this hardship on freelance workers across the country.
“The PRO Act would jeopardize our economic recovery. Many workers who lost jobs during the pandemic found employment options through independent contracting. Congress risks pushing these workers back into the unemployment line and wiping out employment opportunities that would naturally return as businesses reopen, people resume their normal spending and travel habits, and life gets back to normal.”
As part of its workforce campaign “Chasing Work,” Independent Women’s Forum (IWV’s sister organization) has produced written profiles and mini-documentary videos of American workers who’ve been negatively affected by AB5 and other restrictions on worker freedom and flexibility.
To learn more, visit: www.iwf.org/AB5.