Imagining a world in which the PRO Act is law

How the bill’s extreme provisions could manifest in your community

Union activists claim the PRO Act will empower workers and remove barriers to union organization. In reality, it’s a laundry list of extreme organizing provisions that could strip workers of their rights and wreak havoc on workplaces nationwide.

Let’s pretend we live in a world where the PRO Act is law and see how some of its provisions could manifest in a community near you.

Imagine a retail distribution facility in your community with 100 employees. A local union organizer shows up at the door and requests a meeting with the manager, claiming they have knowledge that some unnamed employees are unhappy. The union organizer demands the manager immediately and voluntarily recognize the union as the sole bargaining representative of all employees, despite the lack of any showing of interest, much less a secret ballot vote. The manager refuses.

The PRO Act

Learn more about the PRO Act and the negative effects it would have on retailers.

The next day, dozens of union organizers show up at the retailer’s facility before opening. Since the PRO Act permits so-called “secondary boycotts,” not only can union organizers picket the facility, but also every customer, supplier and vendor with whom the retailer operates.

With an organizing campaign under way, the union can demand extensive personal information about employees, including home addresses, cell phone numbers, personal email addresses and work locations and shifts. The PRO Act requires employers to disclose their employees’ personal information to union organizers, who can then broadcast unsolicited, pro-union messages in employees’ workplaces, at their homes, through email and social media.

Businesses that contact an outside counsel for advice trigger the so-called “persuader” provision of the PRO Act. This provision requires extensive legal disclosures, threatening the employer’s attorney-client privilege. That puts at risk the employer’s ability to find legal counsel to understand the complex laws around union organizing campaigns — almost guaranteeing smaller businesses will violate those laws. Such violations would result in extensive penalties for the employer and individual executives.

The PRO Act also prohibits employers from meeting with employees to discuss the organizing campaign or offer advice on dealing with union organizers.

Back at the distribution center, after a weeks-long campaign, the union gets 51 of the 100 employees to sign a “showing of interest” petition requesting a vote. Under the PRO Act, the union dictates when the vote occurs and who participates in the voting unit. In fact, under the PRO Act, the employer no longer has standing to participate in the union election process.

Now for the vote: In one of its most egregious provisions, the PRO Act strips employees of their right to a private ballot. The union chooses the method of voting, meaning the election might not occur at as it does now — at secure facilities using private voting booths overseen by federal government officials.

Under the PRO Act, the union could opt to vote by cell phones or email, making it far easier for union organizers to demand workers vote in front of them and know which and how workers voted.

The vote concludes, and votes are tallied: 41 for and 59 against the union. You might think the “no union” side has won, but not under the PRO Act. Because the union previously got 51 of the 100 employees to sign the “showing of interest” petition, the National Labor Relations Board can overturn the election without cause.

Further, if NLRB decides the employer committed any infractions, it can order the employer to bargain with the union. NLRB can do this no matter how lopsided the vote was against the union. In short, even though the workers voted against the union, the facility will still be organized.

Once collective bargaining commences, the employer must come to an agreement with the union on every term and condition of employment — including wages, health care, uniforms, hours, leave or retirement — within 100 days. If unresolved issues remain, representatives from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service arrive to mediate. Under the PRO Act’s “binding arbitration” provision, FMCS dictates the contract governing the facility. Neither side — employer nor the union — can change a word of the contract for two years.

It’s clear that passage of the PRO Act would be devastating for our industry and the American economy.

Amazon employees in Bessemer, Ala., voted against unionizing their workplace in April, despite national media attention and pressure from Washington. This vote took place in a fair, democratic process via private ballots, and the union was overwhelmingly rejected by workers in a 2-1 vote.

Unions know they cannot advance their priorities under the current process. That’s why they are pushing for the PRO Act to tilt the balance of power in their favor. Join NRF in calling on Congress to oppose this extreme legislation.

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