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PRO Act Could Mean Major Change for Workers’ Rights and Labor Negotiations
April 26, 2021
The Nature of Work in the US is About to Change; Here’s What You Need to Know
Employers and business owners should be well-versed in the proposed law that will change the nature of work in the United States for the foreseeable future. The PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act is set to shake up some of the traditional fundamentals of work created by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, giving more power to workers with expanded labor protections and rights to organize and collectively bargain in the workplace.
Employers, in the past, have had the right to hold mandatory anti-union meetings for their employees. The PRO Act would effectively take this right away from employers, giving more rights to workers and allowing them to organize and unionize with reduced red tape and increased abilities to perform secondary strike and solidarity actions. Employers will be subject to significant fines from the National Labor Relations Board should they defy such labor laws.
Should this law be passed, temporary and gig workers will have increased labor rights and the ability to solicit more compensation and benefits from employers. They will no longer be able to be classified as “independent contractors.”
The Upcoming Change in the “Right to Work”
The PRO Act has far-reaching implications for employers across the United States. The full scope of what is about to change is extensive and can be read in complete detail by visiting the United States Congress website.
One of the key takeaways is the complete abolishment of state “right-to-work” laws, wherein 27 states, the government has banned the mandatory payment law that allows workers to choose whether they want to contribute to the union dues while working for an employer. The PRO act would effectively override “right-to-work” laws. Unionized workers will have to pay union dues should the PRO act be passed, effectively strengthening existing union numbers. Penalties to employees who do not pay such union dues will be significant, promoting the general acceptance of unions in the United States.
Worker Strikes Will be a Completely Different Monster in the United States
The PRO Act will also make sweeping changes regarding union walk-offs and strikes. In the United States, it has long been illegal for “secondary strikes” to occur, that is, having other industries partake in walk-offs, strikes, and demonstrations that are not considered to be in dispute with the primary employer.
The PRO Act completely changes the nature of labor disputes in the United States. Now, secondary strikes will be entirely legal, and unions will be able to recruit in large forces to help picket and boycott all vendors and businesses connected to the labor dispute. This gives incredible powers to labor unions and their workers to organize in mass amounts to exert bargaining pressure against the employer. If a larger corporation experiences a massive strike from their workforces, other businesses could be caught in the mix and face strikes themselves.
The results of such a change in American labor law could see businesses experience more strikes even if they don’t employ a union. Workers’ unions will undoubtedly have more power during such contentious labor strikes.
Gig Workers and Independent Contractors Will Have More Rights
For years, labor laws in America have been defined by titles such as employee or supervisor. Employees have long since had access to workers’ rights and benefits, including increased wages, benefits, and the right to organize. Many businesses have purposely deemed some workers as “temporary” or “independent contractors,” giving them fewer rights under the NLRA.
The PRO Act would likely do away with the status of independent contractors, pushing employers to classify all managers, supervisors, and contractors as employees. This would, in turn, give workers more rights and freedoms to organize with affiliated unions, complicating labor negotiations down the line.
Navigate the Complications of the PRO Act with AFIMAC
The punitive damages for violating these new labor laws can have massive impacts on an employer. Fines and penalties for ongoing violations are incremental in nature. Business owners could face personal liability for such penalties in the workforce, and workplaces could be subject to litigation. In addition, employees will have extensive rights to act in the court of law, with employees able to recover any court or lawyer fees from the employer.
AFIMAC is highly experienced in managing ongoing labor law issues between employers and unions. We can provide extended clarity and planning for the expected changes in work as a result of the PRO Act. Trust the experience of a third party who can guide you through the complications and help you act accordingly. Contact us directly to learn more.