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house Bill H.R. 2474

Increasing Penalties for Misclassification of Employees as Contractors & Strengthening Workers' Right to Strike

Argument in favor

Although Americans are becoming increasingly interested in and supportive of labor unions, union membership is at its lowest point ever. This is due to the lack of laws supporting labor unions and the proliferation of right-to-work laws. By strengthening labor unions, this bill will protect workers and raise workers’ wages.

Kelly 's Opinion
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09/02/2019
One of the first and only fights I remember my parents having was when my dad ( a union over the road truck drives) found out that my mom crossed a picket line to do , i don’t even remember, something. The first and about only time I heard my father raise his voice. He spoke so passionately about unions and what the provided for their people that I will never forget it. I was 6 years old and have been pro union ever sense. After that I made him take me , whenever permitted, to union events. I even met Jimmy Hoffa at one gathering. I always look for the union label and speak pro union at every opportunity. And to this day I have never crossed a picket line and never will. God bless the unions. Forever for the working class.
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Barbara's Opinion
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09/02/2019
Our nation is made up of working people. It’s time we protected them instead of corporations. It says “We the People”.
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Carol's Opinion
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09/02/2019
American workers need to be protected from employers who exploit them. The current system is broken and unscrupulous businesses have taken advantage of their workers for too long. Union featherbedding is a thing of the past. Automation has changes our workforce and manufacturing is no longer the major means of employment in the US. Service and sales are very exploitive of their workforce and their attitudes are "we can always replace them". We will eventually return to the small business model of the 1800s if workers do not have protections.
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Argument opposed

This bill would force workers to join unions regardless of whether they want to do so and hurt opportunities for people working as independent contractors. Most importantly, by making the regulatory environment more challenging for businesses, this bill would make it impossible for the economy to continue growing at its current pace.

JTJ's Opinion
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09/02/2019
Unions hold back the hard workers and incentivize the slackers.
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ManfromNebraska's Opinion
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09/02/2019
We don’t need more regulations protecting workers and labor unions. Just enforce the laws we do have.
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Bill's Opinion
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02/06/2020
The government has no legitimate authority to dictate. It’s a sovereign right of contract.
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What is House Bill H.R. 2474?

This bill — the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act of 2019 — would strengthen protections for workers’ right to organize a union and collectively bargain for higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions. It would also bolster remedies for and punishing violations of workers’ rights, such as through the misclassification of workers as independent contractors.

The bill would authorize the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to: 

  • Assess monetary penalties for each violation in which a worker is wrongfully terminated or suffers economic harm; 
  • Immediately seek an injunction to reinstate employees who are wrongfully terminated when they exercise their rights; 
  • Allow workers to seek justice in the courts, rather than solely through the NLRB General Counsel, to enforce their NLRA rights; and 
  • Prohibit employers from requiring workers to attend meetings designed to persuade them against unionizing.

This bill would seek to enhance workers’ right to strike for higher wages and better working conditions by:

  • Removing prohibitions on workers acting in solidarity with workers at other companies, protect workers who engage in peaceful protest actions with their fellow workers, and prohibit companies from permanently replacing workers who participate in a strike; 
  • Overturning the Supreme Court’s decision in Epic Systems v. Lewis by clarifying that employers can’t force employees to waive their rights to engage in collective or class-action litigation; 
  • Allowing employers and unions to enter into contracts allowing unions to collect fair-share fees that cover the costs of collective bargaining and administering the agreement; and 
  • Requiring mediation and arbitration to settle disputes between companies and newly certified unions.

Employers would be prohibited from misclassifying their employees as supervisors or independent contractors and prevent workers from being denied remedies due to their immigration status. It would ensure that employees have the right to collectively bargain with all of the companies that control the terms of their employment and which are necessary partners for meaningful collective bargaining. This bill would also require employers to post notices informing workers of their rights under the NLRA and to disclose contracts with consultants hired to persuade employees on how to exercise their rights.

Impact

Workers; labor unions; employers; right-to-work laws; National Labor Relations Board (NLRB); and Epic Systems v. Lewis.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2474

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthHouse Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced this bill to strengthen protections for workers’ right to organize a union and bargain for higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions

“Evidence and experience demonstrate that labor unions are one of the most powerful tools workers have to improve the standard of living for themselves and their families. However, there are currently no meaningful penalties for predatory corporations that use unlawful tactics to discourage workers from organizing a union. The PRO Act is a comprehensive proposal to ensure that workers have the right to stand together and negotiate for higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions.”

In a letter to his Congressional colleagues seeking cosponsors for this bill, Rep. Scott observed that the NLRA in its current incarnation isn’t strong enough:

“The NLRA has few tools to deter persistent violations — such as firing workers who support forming a union. This has contributed to the erosion of union density, which has decreased from 33.2 percent of the total workforce in 1956 to only 10.5 percent in 2018.”

The House Education and Labor Committee contends that unions are “critical to increasing wages and addressing income inequality.” It notes that union members earn 13% more than non-union employees with similar education, occupation, and experience in nonunion workplaces. The HELP Committee also notes that “toothless” labor laws have allowed “unscrupulous employers” to erode union membership, leading to a decrease in union membership from 33% in 1956 to 10% in 2018.

The AFL-CIO supports this bill. In testimony before the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions in support of this legislation, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said: 

“2018 was the biggest year for collective action in three decades. Teachers from West Virginia to Arizona. Google employees. Workers in every sector and every region are embracing the transformational power that comes from joining together in common cause. MIT found that half of non-union workers would vote to join a union today if given the chance. That’s more than 60 million Americans. So why haven’t we seen a rise in union membership commensurate with this surge in approval, recognition and desire? The answer is clear: Our woefully outdated labor laws no longer serve as an effective means for working people to have our voices heard… Today, union-busting consultants are paid tens of millions of dollars to deny workers a voice on the job. And once a union election is won, these same bad actors do everything in their power to undermine the collective bargaining process. Workers are forced to sit in meetings where the only item on the agenda is bashing the union. Pro-union workers are fired. Employers refuse to bargain in good faith. Some refuse to bargain at all. And far too often, the financial consequences for breaking federal law are virtually nonexistent. This must change. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act will change it…  The PRO Act would do many important things, chief among them provide more substantial relief for workers whose rights have been violated...ensure a process for reaching a first contract once a union is recognized...and create a true deterrent, so employers think twice before violating the law. Something is happening in America. Workers are embracing collective action with a fervor I haven’t seen in a generation. It is time for our laws to catch up. It is time to make the PRO Act the law of the land.”

Anti-union groups call this bill “anti-worker” and “anti-freedom.” Sean Redmond, Executive Director of Labor Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says

“The PRO Act… [seeks] to prop up labor unions at the expense of employers and employees. Among the many pernicious provisions in the PRO Act, perhaps the worst would repeal right-to-work laws that have been adopted in 27 states. Those laws protect employees by preventing them from being fired for not providing monetary support to a union with which they do not wish to affiliate. Naturally, unions have detested those laws since the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act that allowed them because it deprives labor of the ability to coerce membership—and dues… Overall, the PRO Act lays out the most current wish list of organized labor and their allies, and it does not bode well for workers, employers, or the economy… The PRO Act also eviscerates employers’ rights by stripping their standing in NLRB representation cases. In other words, an employer being targeted by a union organizing drive would have no right of recourse to the NLRB, no matter how disruptive union behavior gets. On the other side, the bill would impose personal liability on employers for alleged NLRA violations… [A]nyone who wants the economy to continue its upward trajectory should just say no.”    

F. Vincent Vernuccio, a senior fellow at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and Morgan Shields, legal counsel and director of Workers for Opportunity at the Mackinac Center, expressed opposition to this bill in a May 2019 op-ed in The Hill. They wrote: 

“Workers should be given the opportunity to freely choose whether to join and pay a union. Workers should be in control of when and how their private information is shared with groups and organizations. When it comes to the terms and conditions of their employment, workers should have more say, not less. Small businesses should be freed from regulatory burdens so that they and their employees can flourish. The PRO Act is not only pro-forced unionization, it is anti-worker and anti-freedom.”

This legislation has 193 Democratic House cosponsors in the 116th Congress. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), has 40 Senate cosponsors, including 39 Democrats and one Independent.

Vox’s Alexia Fernández Campbell notes that it’s “highly unlikely” that any Senate Republicans will support this bill. In fact, she notes, Republicans are moving in the opposite direction from this bill, trying to pass a Senate bill that would implement right-to-work laws in every state


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / metamorworks)

AKA

Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019

Official Title

To amend the National Labor Relations Act, the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house Passed February 7th, 2020
    Roll Call Vote 224 Yea / 194 Nay
    IntroducedMay 2nd, 2019

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    One of the first and only fights I remember my parents having was when my dad ( a union over the road truck drives) found out that my mom crossed a picket line to do , i don’t even remember, something. The first and about only time I heard my father raise his voice. He spoke so passionately about unions and what the provided for their people that I will never forget it. I was 6 years old and have been pro union ever sense. After that I made him take me , whenever permitted, to union events. I even met Jimmy Hoffa at one gathering. I always look for the union label and speak pro union at every opportunity. And to this day I have never crossed a picket line and never will. God bless the unions. Forever for the working class.
    Like (177)
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    Unions hold back the hard workers and incentivize the slackers.
    Like (50)
    Follow
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    Our nation is made up of working people. It’s time we protected them instead of corporations. It says “We the People”.
    Like (160)
    Follow
    Share
    American workers need to be protected from employers who exploit them. The current system is broken and unscrupulous businesses have taken advantage of their workers for too long. Union featherbedding is a thing of the past. Automation has changes our workforce and manufacturing is no longer the major means of employment in the US. Service and sales are very exploitive of their workforce and their attitudes are "we can always replace them". We will eventually return to the small business model of the 1800s if workers do not have protections.
    Like (122)
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    Thank unions for your Labor Day Holiday. And the 40hr week. And overtime pay. And healthcare. And no child labor. And on and on and on. What did big business ever GIVE you?
    Like (73)
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    Protection from dangerous working conditions. Protection from unwanted sexual advances. Protection from discrimination of religion, sexual orientation, age discrimination, being women, etc..
    Like (70)
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    Strong unions make strong economic sense and a strong middle class. I have worked in union and non-union jobs in both union and non-union states. I was absolutely treated better in union states in both union and non-union jobs. “Right-to-works” is BS. It’s “right to fire for any reason” in reality. You know for “being a woman”, “reporting harassment”, “being to good at my job and making other look bad”, “not a team player; aka refused to give BJs” and bullshit like that.
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    My answer is both YES and NO. I have needed to take some time to explain this in a way that cannot be misinterpreted. Organizations of any size tend to act in ways to preserve and enhance that organization. This is true for a school of fish, a pod of whales, a family unit, a city government, a drug cartel, the Republican Senate, the AMA, large companies, our Country and world-wide alliances. These organizations will take actions to the detriment of other organizations as they protect and enhance themselves. That is the positive part of unionization. It allows union organizations, with some collective ‘clout’, to protect itself by protecting its membership against the collective ’clout’ of company’s who may abuse its members- kind of an equal match-up. Unionization has certainly improved worker’s rights and has protected them from corporate abuse- but there are also a couple of downsides. First, one-size-fits-all union rules may appeal to the general membership but they also can limit an individual worker’s advancement. I recall a conversation with a VP of what today would be about a $500M company after his vacation to Rome. He was lamenting the fact that they employed some highly skilled technicians with the kind of ‘gifted’ skills that contributed to the majestic construction he had seen- but he had no way of showing them how much they were valued or rewarding them financially, because Union rules required in-grade promotions be given based on seniority. This was a disservice to both the employees and to the Company. It disincentivized worker involvement in processes that would benefit both the workers and the company. Next, In today’s world the consolidation of many unions into huge organizations give those huge unions an unbalanced ‘clout’ over companies and result in negotiated wages and benefits that are out of line with the market. I recall a radio interview some time ago with a machinist out of work during a targeted auto manufacturer strike. He was complaining about losing the $70K he had been earning while on strike. The interviewer asked if the strike was hitting him so hard, why didn’t he just find other work. He said no, any non-UAW job would not pay more than $50K. Interviewer asked, do you think it fair that you are earning that much more? He replied: “No, as a union member, I deserve this”. I believe Union clout in this instance led to a situation where this UAW worker had the best defined-benefit retirement package in existence at the time and additionally had the best wages in his field. Before the restructuring of the auto industry after the AGI incident, it is no wonder that competing products from foreign automakers (who admittedly do not have the same worker standards that we do) have led to so much manufacturing being moved off-shore. So, I feel that worker rights definitely need to be protected and enhanced. I also believe that the big umbrella unions are far too powerful in that they are organizations with too much ‘clout’ and that organizations evolve to protect the organization’s interests, not necessarily it’s individual member’s interest. I think as organizations, the same kind of anti-trust laws that broke up large dominating corporate organizations, need to be applied to these large dominating union collectives as well. … … … It is clear that the balance of power has been moving toward Corporations and that Union protections are once again needed. There are legislative ways to ensure that workers are valued stakeholders in a Corporation’s future, particularly in publicly owned and regulated companies - to rebalance and re-align priorities for the long-term common good of workers, shareholders, and company growth alike- to truly compete internationally by providing better products and services like we used to do.
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    The behavior of corporations show the need for unions.
    Like (32)
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    Unions make American great!
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    Labor unions protect the backbone of the work force. Employees need to be able to negotiate for a safe and reasonanle work environment.
    Like (30)
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    Yes, government and big business need to stop rigging the system against organized labor. They have beat down the middle class enough, time for labor to organize and workers get what they deserve.
    Like (29)
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    Unions are what made this country strong, lifting up everyone. You can trace the decline of the union to the decline of the American worker.
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    We don’t need more regulations protecting workers and labor unions. Just enforce the laws we do have.
    Like (27)
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    Corporations do everything possible to remove workers rights. Nowadays every state has become a “right to work” state, meaning employers can terminate your employment whenever they see fit. This policy was enacted due to the will of corporations. Unions protect employees from these cruel laws, without them we are all disposable.
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    The Republican Party has lionized the rich and CEO’s. They use workers as a voting tool that they lie and manipulate to get tax breaks for the rich. The only major law they passed when they controlled all branches of government was a giant permeant tax cut for the super-rich and a tiny temporary tax cut for the rest of us that goes away after the 2020 election.
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    The government has no legitimate authority to dictate. It’s a sovereign right of contract.
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    Biggest employment scam there is! Lay-off workers & hire them back as contractors at a fraction of their salary & no benefits! White collar & Service Industry mostly unprotected in US unlike Europe! They say the position is eliminated under restructuring but in fact just rename & the name maybe very similar!
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    Things you can thank unions for: All breaks at work including lunch breaks,paid vacation, FMLA, sick leave, social security, minimum wage, overtime pay, 8hr work days, civil rights rights act/title VII(prohibits employers discrimination, child labor laws, 40hr work week, workers comp, unemployment insurance, pensions, workplace safety standards and regulations, employer health care insurance, wrongful termination laws, age discrimination employment act of 1967, whistleblower protection laws, sexual harassment laws, Americans with disabilities act, holiday pay, employer dental, vision, and life insurance plans, privacy rights, military leave, pregnancy and paternal leave, right to strike, equal pay acts of 1963 and 2011, laws ending sweatshops in america.
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    They don’t actually need protection as much as they need a fair playing field. So much legislation has been enacted in the past few decades to undermine workers rights and their ability to organize. All of the data supports that this has been good for some entities such as corporations but it has been bad for the average working person as a whole. When workers and unions are supported it benefits the entire community. When corporations are the focus of support it benefits the shareholders.
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