By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE
The Associated General Contractors continues to oppose the PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act, H.R. 842, legislation seeking to change dozens of longstanding labor laws regarding collective bargaining.
AGC of America CEO Stephen Sandherr says the legislation, which the U.S. House of Representatives passed 225-206 back in March, remains in the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions where it has been for nearly four months. Backed by the AFL-CIO, the bill provides for conditions that would strengthen unions’ leverage in collective bargaining with union construction companies and in efforts to unionize open-shop firms. H.R. 842, if passed in the Senate and signed into law by President Joe Biden, would also require employers to divulge private information about their employees and remove prohibitions on partial strikes, slowdown strikes and intermittent strikes.
“On its face, the PRO Act seems to be a rather limited application,” said Sandherr. “But in reality, the bill goes way beyond that. This is the most aggressive and ambitious menu of changes to federal labor law ever offered by the AFL-CIO. It would overturn over 70 years of precedent.”
Under H.R. 842, secondary boycotts – boycotts allowing unions to picket against any employer regardless of whether they are directly involved in a dispute with that union – would be allowed, according to Sandherr.
“This measure means many workers could be idled for a dispute in which they do not stand to benefit,” he said.
The PRO Act also includes a provision related to employee classification that takes aim at the use of independent contractors. “This would make it extremely difficult for entrepreneurial construction industry workers to establish their own businesses,” Sandherr said.
AGC of Missouri President Leonard Toenjes says unless the Senate’s filibuster rule is altered, the PRO Act will likely remain in committee.