Vice President, Labor Policy
July 01, 2021
As this blog has observed on more than a few occasions, labor leaders and their allies in Congress have developed a bill that would fundamentally rewrite American labor law to tilt the field in favor of unions, which are desperate to reverse a sixty-five year decline in membership.
Their proposal, known as the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, would upend many well-established legal principles and otherwise unleash a litany of dangerous ideas to make it easier for unions to coerce workers into joining. According to a recent poll, however, this legislative overreach does not seem to be very popular.
Forbes Tate Partners, a bipartisan government affairs and research firm, conducted a national survey of 1,006 registered U.S. voters from May 25 to June 2, 2021, and the results reveal what at best might be called widespread skepticism about the PRO Act and/or the kinds of policies it would impose.
In fact, the survey results show that there actually is substantial opposition to many of those policies, such as the PRO Act’s effective repeal of state right-to-work statutes, which was a concern for 70% of the respondents. Moreover, that result was bipartisan, with 68% of Democrats, 65% of Independents, and 74% of Republicans registering their concern over the prospect of being forced to pay union dues just to keep one’s job.
Similarly, 57% of voters (including 47% of Democrats and 69% of Independents) do not believe workers should be forced to join a union as a condition of employment, and just 34% of voters believe workers should be required to pay union dues.
As one might expect, survey respondents were also very concerned about the PRO Act’s assault on workers’ privacy by forcing employers to turn over to union organizers private information about employees without their consent. Some of that information includes home addresses, personal email addresses, and personal cell phone numbers, and the bill places no restriction on how unions may use that information or with whom they may share it. This aspect of the PRO Act garnered opposition from 75% of voters, with 47% saying they were very concerned by this intrusion of their privacy, just as they have been with similar proposals in the past.
Two-thirds (67%) of voters opposed the PRO Act’s objective of undermining the traditional secret ballot election process for union representation, which has been in place for 86 years. A similar number (68%) do not agree with the PRO Act’s provisions that strip employers of key legal rights, including the fundamental right to have standing in union representation cases.
Other aspects of the PRO Act elicited roughly the same level of opposition, such as the bill’s undermining of independent contractors by deeming them to be employees for unionizing purposes (70% voiced concern) as well as its undermining of the franchise business model (65% voiced concern). Meanwhile, there is strong support for two of the main targets of the PRO Act: small businesses (92% of voters view favorably) and independent contractors (85% of voters view favorably).
Taken together, the results of the Forbes Tate survey are not good news for the PRO Act’s proponents. While they may wish to shrug off these poll results, it could be at their peril. After all, voters sometimes have a way of decisively registering opinions like these on election day.