Stephanie Ferguson Stephanie Ferguson
Director, Global Employment Policy & Special Initiatives, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


December 11, 2019


According to a recent article in the Intercept, progressives and unions are getting frustrated that the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act hasn’t yet come up for a vote. Specifically, the article states that two months after a committee markup, Speaker Pelosi has not moved the bill to the floor, nor has she indicated when she might, and the article quotes a few members of Congress who can’t understand why given the number of co-sponsors.

But perhaps the Speaker knows something about the political realities of the legislation. Because the fact is that the PRO Act would suffocate employers, preempt state’s rights, and overturn Supreme Court decisions. This isn’t exactly a winning formula in many Congressional districts.

For starters, the PRO Act would effectively repeal all right-to-work laws, which currently give states the power to protect private-sector workers from being forced to pay union dues against their will. Under the PRO Act, workers could potentially lose their jobs if they do not agree to pay fees to a union, even if they decline membership.

Second, the PRO Act undermines workplace democracy by allowing unions to organize via card check. Under card check, private ballot elections conducted by the National Labor Relations Board are not required—simply showing that a majority of workers have signed a pledge card would suffice. The problem here is that unions can use all sorts of tactics to get workers to sign a card, which, not incidentally, is done in public.

Under the PRO Act, employers would also be forced to turn over to unions private information about their workers, such as home addresses, home phone numbers, cell phone numbers, e-mail addresses, work schedules, and more.

The bill also would make it much more difficult for workers to earn money in the expanding gig economy by adopting California’s stringent new test for determining independent contractor status. Doing so would mean that military spouses, transitioning service members, ex-offenders and individuals seeking to earn a few extra bucks no longer have opportunities to provide services through app-based platforms. And the list of harmful provisions goes on and on—expanding joint employer liability, ambush elections, and mandatory arbitration of first contracts to name just a few provisions.

It’s little wonder Speaker Pelosi has kept the bill off the floor. Hopefully, off the floor is where it stays.

Read more about the negative implications of PRO Act in our new report here.

About the authors

Stephanie Ferguson

Stephanie Ferguson

Stephanie Ferguson is the Director of Global Employment Policy & Special Initiatives. Her work on the labor shortage has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Associated Press.

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