This bill was first introduced in the 116th Congress in May 2019 as House of Representatives (H.R.) Bill #2474. It passed the House in February 2020, and was referred to the Senate. Nothing appears to have been done with it since then. Notwithstanding this, many people are now talking about this bill, and President Biden has indicated he will sign the bill into law if it ever reaches his desk.
Among other things, this bill would:
1. Make it easier to organize a union and restrict employers’ ability to replace striking employees.
2. Force employers to turn over the contact information (such as home addresses, cell phone and landline numbers, and email addresses) of their employees to labor unions without the employees’ consent, affecting employees’ privacy.
3. Invalidate States' right-to-work laws, which ensures that workers have the freedom to decide whether to join and support a union or no. Currently, there may be at least 27 States that have right-to-work laws, including North Carolina.
4. Limit workers’ ability to qualify as independent contractors, putting in jeopardy their ability to set their own schedules, set their own prices, and in some cases even retain the small businesses they’ve built. The bill does this by inserting what is known as the California “ABC test” (see explanation below) into the definition of employee under the NLRA.
In January 2020, the American Action Forum released a study on the economic costs of the PRO Act, further proving just how harmful this bill is. The study found that the independent contractor provision could cost between $3.5 billion and $12.1 billion annually and affect 8.5% of the GDP, and the joint employer provision could cost the franchise business sector between $17.2 billion and $33.3 billion annually. The joint employer provision could also affect 44% of private sector workers. Further, the PRO Act’s provision that restricts employers from replacing strikers permanently could cost employers an additional $1.9 billion annually.
Like everything Democrats do, their sleight of hand is amazing! Calling this bill pro-employee is akin to calling a serial killer a misunderstood soul!
On April 30, 2018, the California Supreme Court issued an opinion in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, clarifying the standard for determining whether workers in California should be classified as employees or as independent contractors for purposes of the wage orders adopted by California’s Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”). In so doing, the Court held that there is a presumption that individuals are employees, and that an entity classifying an individual as an independent contractor bears the burden of establishing that such a classification is proper under the “ABC test” used in some other jurisdictions. The Court held that it is the burden of the hiring entity to establish that a worker is an independent contractor who was not intended to be included within the applicable wage order’s coverage. To meet this burden, the hiring entity must establish each of the following three factors, commonly known as the “ABC test”:
(A) that the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact; and
(B) that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and
(C) that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.