The PRO Act is not only anti-worker, it’s anti-women

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we must not only reflect on how far women have come but work to ensure that progress isn’t reversed.

Unfortunately, legislators in the U.S. House passed legislation this week that is anti-women (and also anti-worker and anti-business).

Called the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), this bill would dramatically alter federal labor law by putting union interests first, and would hurt women and families the most, according to the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF).

By putting the interests of labor union bosses ahead of American workers and taxpayers, the PRO Act is the opposite of pro-women, pro-worker, and pro-business. It is an attack on freedom and choice in the workplace. It is an attempt to handcuff workers to unions by eliminating workers’ constitutionally protected rights and privacies. And it undermines the flexibility American workers rely on and need regarding gainful employment.

Included in the PRO Act is a provision that codifies California’s “ABC” test, which threatens millions of individuals who work as independent contractors and infringes on the flexibility and freedom they value in their job.

According to IWF, one in five jobs in America is held by an independent contractor. Nearly half (46 percent) of independent contractors are female. And 61 percent of women prefer the flexibility of independent contracting to the benefits of employment, IWF continues.

For Jennifer O’Connell, an independent contractor based in California, the state’s AB5 law (which is codified in the PRO Act) “prevents her from bringing in income by restricting the companies she can work for,” writes IWF. A writer and yoga instructor, O’Connell tells IWF that AB5 keeps people from “having vocational and economic freedom. They want you chained to the union. They want to make everyone a class of workers tied to the system.”

Other PRO Act provisions include:

  • Banning Right to Work laws, which prohibit employers and unions from requiring employees to join a union or pay fees as a condition of employment.
  • Infringing on worker privacy by requiring employers to provide an employee’s personal contact information to unions, including home address and phone numbers. Labor union officials “use this information to confront workers anywhere and everywhere, often in intimidating manners due to the leeway they are given in communication with workers,” according to an analysis of the bill by Americans for Prosperity.
  • Codifying “ambush election rules,” which shorten an election timeframe, making it difficult for employees to discuss and learn about the elections before they occur.
  • Authorizing secondary boycotts, which allow unions to target any company through picketing and protests even if the issue is unrelated to a labor dispute.
  • Codifying “persuader regulation,” which eliminates attorney-client privilege as it requires labor attorneys and firms to disclose communication about their relationships with employers.

This legislation would negatively impact millions of American workers, undermining the flexibility and freedom that have empowered workers over the years. Instead, lawmakers should adopt “employment policies that evolve even further to meet the needs of families, consumers, and businesses in the 21st century,” according to Americans for Prosperity.

That would entail:

1. Enacting reforms that empower individuals and businesses to use independent contracting as they see fit.

2. Providing more flexibility to businesses that want to offer their independent contractors voluntary benefits.

3. Allowing independent contractors to use innovative resources, such as digital marketplace companies, to grow their businesses without taking away their independence.

4. Putting independent contractors on a more equal playing field in pursuing optional benefits outside of traditional employment models.